Disengage brain, enjoy riffs, try not to forget girlfriend’s name.
Andrzej Lukowski 2009
It is the year 1998. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have just released Walking into Clarksdale, their second album as a duo. Touring in support of the record, the 70s titans are playing sets laden with all manner of Led Zeppelin goodies. The world responds with – at best – muted interest.
Skip forward one decade. Kings of Leon have just released the UK’s second-biggest-selling digital single of all time, a breathtakingly stupid piece of macho bluster called Sex on Fire. Led Zeppelin’s December 2007 reunion show (basically Page and Plant again, only with bassist John Paul Jones on board) has been decreed the best thing that has ever happened in all recorded history.
So you’ve got to hand it to Alberta Cross: they’ve got good timing.
Now is probably the first time in something like 35 years that a posse of hairy menfolk could get away virtually scot-free with big, twangy rock songs in which the only possible name for the object of one’s affections is a terse “woman”. Indeed, the very first line of the very first track on Broken Side of Time – the debut album from these New York-residing Londoners – runs thusly: “Woman, I pushed you more than I should”. It’s called Song Three Blues, and pretty much sets the tone for an album in which the worst aspects of 70s rock (near mind-boggling levels of musical and social conservatism) does constant battle with the most laudable (riffola-clad tunes so epic and yearning they make the average choir of angels sound like a washing machine breaking down).
The fact the weirder, prettier, more daring My Morning Jacket already exist does lead to awkward questions about the exact point of Alberta Cross. But then, Broken Side of Time harks back to the days when men were men, women were women and nobody really thought too much about the point of anything. That they’re a musical shoo-in in 2009 is possibly cause for alarm, but whatever: disengage brain, enjoy riffs, try not to forget girlfriend’s name.