It’s not easy being odd. The pendulum of eccentricity has a habit of swinging between wonderfully, gloriously unhinged and woefully, horribly misjudged, or worse boring, making it a tough nut to crack consistently, especially if you’re also hoping to avoid the deathly “wacky” tag. Bristol bampots Turbowolf are very much an odd band, and sadly their pendulum has been in something of a non-stop down swing ever since they flailed onto the scene in a shower of psychedelia, patchouli and parachute pants at the start of the decade, following some brilliant early EPs with a decent debut album and a ploddy, uninspired second. However, as any horologist worth their salt will tell you, the pendulum that swings down must then swing up, and Turbowolf’s third album, The Free Life, is a gigantic swing up, powered by a cosmic drive and energy unseen since the batshit finale to that eponymous debut, Let’s Die. Barking like a Russian dancing bear in a catnip factory, this is without doubt the most consistent, most propulsive, and most importantly, most fun Turbowolf album yet, slathered in feedback and vibrating on a simply enormous guitar tone that growls with enough static to turn Ross Kemp into Buzz Osborne. Riffing for his life, guitarist Andy Ghosh wrestles licks that sound like John Carpenter synths from his instrument, mining a sound ten times fuzzier than anything Sweden has to offer, ensuring that Turbowolf sound both retro and current at the same time, while simultaneously proving that if Matt Bellamy thinks guitars are dead, he’s simply not using them right. A handful of well chosen guest spots pump even more vitality into the proto-punk, psycho-blues, stoner-rock mix, with Sebastien Grainger of Death From Above and Mike Kerr of Royal Blood in particular delivering performances better than anything their day jobs have inspired in recent years. The one-time king of the party Andrew W.K. may have ridden back into town last week, but in 2018, he’s the Otter to Turbowolf’s Bluto.
The Free Life is out 9 March via So Recordings