The duo’s second album is a Southern blues-fest from the get-go. Opening track, ‘Forgive Me’, starts with a riveting slide guitar riff and a commanding drum beat. Justin Swart’s whiskey-soaked vocal takes us on an introspective journey through the parts of himself that he wishes he could hide – all those unmentionable sins, presumably. This driving confession is marred slightly by the first of two guitar solos that has just enough palm-muting to sound a bit chunky and unrehearsed, a common trend throughout the album.
After drunkenly waltzing through the sentimental ‘I Wrote You a Letter’, the Jack White influence starts to bright shine through on the up-beat ‘Codeine Crazy.’ “I’ve grown tired of your charm/and I’m looking to be free” Swart wails in an attempt to kick an apparent addiction. With its non-stop energy this song is like a forceful tornado that only lets up once its had enough.
The album closes with the titular ‘Ratty Old Mo’’ which sounds a bit like The Who after a few bottles of Jack Daniels. With its Roger Daltry-esque delivery the song tells the all-too-real tale of the lasting effects of toxic father-son relationships. Technically, this is one of the best songs on the album. The dynamic between vocals, guitar, and drums is tight and pulls one in right through to the neatly resolved conclusion.
One or two wavering guitar solos aside, The Amblers have created an album worth your time. Just like the White Stripes, they prove that you don’t need all those bells and whistles to make a good, solid piece of art.
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Listen to the album below.