Boogie Beasts – Love Me Some
Naked Productions – 2021
12 tracks; 38:12
Blues fans have a lot to be grateful for with the Black Keys. Their soulful rhythm and blues grooves, mixed with a sprinkling of contemporary rock and roll, has allowed artists to push blues rock into the mainstream in ways that were more challenging prior to the Keys’ 2002 debut, The Big Come Up. But that distinctive sound has pressured other bands into feeling like they need to embrace it, resulting in blues acts who write and record with the Black Keys lodged in their subconscious. Boogie Beasts’ Love Me Some has some heavy Black Keys influences, but the album’s strongest moments are when they diverge from that sound.
Boogie Beasts come from Liège-Limburg-Namur, Belgium and Love Me Some is their third album. Singers Jan Jaspers and Patrick Louis tend to drench their vocals in reverb, which results in a cool garage-y effect, but often makes it difficult to connect to their vocals, in the same way it’s tough to get a read on someone wearing sunglasses. The grooves are fast, which creates energy, but sometimes makes it hard to take in the songs. These traits also too often mask the excellent harmonica work of Fabian Bennardo.
Because of that, the album’s best moment is “Run You Down,” which is Boogie Beasts at their purest. The band lays down a hypnotic groove while Bennardo’s harp howls over it. The vocals are relatively clean, making the song sound like more of a traditional blues. No one is going to mistake the track for something out of the 1960s, but that’s not what Boogie Beasts is trying to accomplish.
“Get Me Out of Here” is almost the flip side of “Run You Down,” a heavy song with a catchy slide riff that’s practically blues metal. And here, too, Bennardo’s harmonica shines, somehow finding space in the kind of song that usually doesn’t feature harmonica. “Howl” is expansive with a lovely, gentle bridge that reboots a song that begins abruptly and intensely. But as the track rebuilds after the interlude, you hear the song’s potential. All three songs pop because they provide a strong sense of Boogie Beasts’ perspective as a band. They obviously know and appreciate the blues and when they lock-in to the sounds from the original material, and put it through their own personalities, they create compelling songs.
Love Me Some has some nice moments, and Bennardo’s harmonica is a consistent treat across the album. They take a lot from the blues, but the album tilts in a rock direction. Given the power they have in Bennardo’s harmonica work, they might think about leaning more into the blues side of things, slowing things down to let the songs breathe, and returning to the kind of songwriting that probably inspired them to pick up their instruments in the first place.