De Wallen’s Street Fight Sonata is an album that’s cut short by its absolute commitment to golden-age nostalgia – and while all the critical elements are gloriously in play, it never strays from the safe zone.
It’s 2021 and we need to be honest here – times have changed. Yes, rock ‘n’ roll’s hey-day was spectacular and yes, it was a defining moment in the history of Western music but within the scope of today’s scene, a little bit more than a classic stance is necessary.
Where De Wallen’s album falls short is in the fact that, instead of incorporating elements of classic rock into a sound more unique to them, they focus solely on recreating the genre’s so-called glory days.
The result is a well-produced album that has the right sounds in the right places, but a few bars of the opening track “Cheap Drugs” is all it takes to get the measure of it. A rollicking guitar riff joins a no-nonsense, call-to-attention drumbeat before Jeandre Swanepoel’s gravelly vocals come to the party as he revels in his personal brand of rock ‘n’ roll swag.
It’s a formula that De Wallen use throughout to good effect on a technical level – they’re good enough musicians to know what they’re aiming for – but outside of that, the album is a victim of rock ‘n’ roll purism, its vice-grip of expectations perhaps not allowing the band to flex their individual merits.
That being said, if you’re all for the aforementioned purism, this album is just the thing for you.