Album Review: Pottery – Welcome To Bobby’s Motel

Welcome To Bobbys Motel

You know with a title such as this you’re going to be entering a world unlike any other.

Montreal’s Pottery gave us some glimpses into their heads on last year’s slightly less-mysteriously titled EP No. 1, but while previously it was a work in progress, here we have a definitive look.

First impressions? Welcome To Bobby’s Motel is likely to be a sweaty place. Never sitting still, we are welcomed via a largely instrumental title-track which, at only two minutes, may be brief but squeezes a lot in. The guitars have a striking balance between glam and art rock, while the bass takes prominence in the mix (as it will throughout much of the album). There are some distorted vocals alongside spluttering synths which act as smeared narration and return later in the album.

Recent single Hot Heater, featuring elements of samba and African music, is a jerky, stop-start slice of chants and grooves. Singer Austin Boylan channels a smooth mix of David Byrne (indeed, much of the album owes a debt to Talking Heads) and Josh Homme on his more louche moments, delivering said chants in staccato fashion. Like following track Under The Wires, which is equally quirky before morphing into something more urgent (with a powering final third), it’s tailor-made for festival crowds (sigh).

Percussion is king: on Bobby’s Forecast, drummer Paul Jacobs gives the hi-hat a workout as the rest of the band embrace funk (shouting as much within) and groove in a James Brown tribute whilst also providing superfluous but entirely welcome fills and rolls. Jacobs is no less busy on the slower paced Reflection, managing to bring urgency when none seems required.

The centre-piece is Texas Drums Pt I & II, a rattling, rhythmic journey spanning nearly seven minutes culminating in a carnival of noise and colour. On heavy rotation on BBC 6 Music earlier in the year, it’s a perfect encapsulation of both the band and the album.

From here on, the album does become more of the same, and you’re either fully ensconced in Bobby’s Motel or you’re not. Take Your Time gallops with call and response lyrics, while What’s In Fashion is made up of yet more drum rolls and topsy-turvy bass. It features some of the more discernible and interesting lyrics, perhaps recalling some of their experiences of the music industry (‘What’s in fashion? Constant rejection, years of attraction and no-one’s there’).

While the album is designed to be a distraction and designed simply to make us dance, there is some serious subject matter: Hot Heater references environmental concerns, while Take Your Time alludes to substance abuse. Another single, album closer Hot Like Jungle, is the most straight forward and anthemic song on the album, and coming last it almost feels like a draw of breath after the freneticism that has preceded it.

Full of itchy, pent-up energy, Welcome To Bobby’s Motel is an ideal soundtrack to the coming summer nights. Bristling with ideas and intent, the Motel is perhaps not a place for the fainthearted, but it is full of unbridled joy and technicolour energy.

7/10

Richard Bowes

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