I thought I knew what to expect from The Quick & The Dead’s self-titled album. The band’s name conjures images of the Wild West which the album cover does little to dispel. And they hail from Glenrowan, the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand. The intro planted me firmly in the territory of outlaws, but this wasn’t quite the concept album I’d hoped for.
While there were some fiddles and Western allusions in the song’s second track, “Chapter I,” its crunchy electric guitar chords took me out of the Western setting. While some tracks, like the standout “Chapter II” feel like they’ve come from the Wild West, others would sit more comfortably in a sweaty Australian pub.
It took me a while to reconcile what I was actually hearing with the music I expected. I appreciated the easy blues lick of “Fighter (Water From Stone)” and the lyrics of “Saint” really resonated. The music throughout was solid, the vocals capable. However, I confess, I found it difficult to keep up with the album’s ambition at times.
The listener is taken on such a wild journey, from the jangly country-folk of “Chapter II” to a hard-rocking track like “Stone Cold Bones” straight after it. Then it’s not too long before River is joining the band for some rapid-fire rapping in “Riddle.” This album never gets boring, but the listening experience can be a bit jarring at times.
The Quick & The Dead show a lot of potential in this album. There are even flashes of brilliance. But I fear this Victorian band may have tried to do too much here. I can never fault a band for taking risks, even if some of them don’t pay off. In time I’m sure we’ll see The Quick & The Dead honing its sound, playing on its strengths, and producing a more cohesive album.
The Quick & The Dead is released on September 1.