If true musical excellence is to be judged by songwriting ability, then there is no doubt in my mind that Trippy Wicked are one of the best new(ish…) bands releasing records and playing shows at the moment. In a sense, it’s unfortunate that they get lumped in with mediocre sludge bands and (mostly killer!) doom bands, not because they don’t belong on bills with them, but because people approach their music expecting something firmly in the field of metal. They’re a rock group, and they play loud songs with slow parts, but there the similarity ends. This wonderfully enjoyable trio play rock’n’roll that I honestly think would be topping the charts were it not for the spiritual and artistic death of mainstream music. “Shit or get off the pot”, I hear you say; “Are they a sodding pop group?” Well, if you go by the blunt definition of the term, of course they are: they’re accessible, have catchy melodies, are great fun to listen to and are about as danceable as you can get, and “Going Home”, their self-released/recorded sophomore effort is as good a place to start as any, continuing the sleazy but soulful hard rock vibe of their stunning 2009 debut “Movin’ On” (easily in the top five records of that year).
Opening with the truly epic title track, the lovable trio want you to know they mean BUSINESS, with a sea shanty (they had one on their first album, may as well continue the tradition!) that clocks in at 8 minutes and showcases the more soaring side of guitarist/singer/brassman Peter Holland’s voice and Dicky (spelt incorrectly as “Richard” in the booklet! Tsk!) King’s thundering Rickenbacker. However, just as you think you’ve got this cracker of an opener defined, the band decide to throw some strings into the mix; incidentally, I never read liner notes until I’ve heard an album once through, precisely to keep this sort of thing a surprise! This playful spirit is something that has always made Trippy Wicked stand out, and it’s a joy to see it in full swing here!
The band are equally well known for sleazy riffs that roll off the eardrums like a dream, and “Up The Stakes” does just that! It’s funny, but even in a song as angry as this one, you can still hear Holland smiling through it all! We’re also treated to the best guitar solo on the album at the end of this song, courtesy (I suspect) of Tony Reed (a name that keeps cropping up lately!) who mixed and mastered the album as well. The third track “Go Outside”, far from being a George Michael cover, is actually a heartfelt lament at the rioting that swept across the UK’s big cities last summer, and the sincerity with which this song is delivered (along with the balanced view it has of the madness that followed on both sides of the law) makes it a standout track that is both pertinent and moving. Let it not be said that this band cannot tackle reality. Simple yet superb.
“Ain’t Gonna End Well” is one of the fastest tracks Trippy Wicked have ever done, and despite its uptempo cheeriness, I feel it’s the one throwaway track on the album, although in all fairness, this band’s lesser tracks are better than most bands on full steam. That said, the album continues on belting form with a track that is already a firm favourite in their live sets, “I Want Another Drink”, starting off with drummer, producer, and all-round good egg Chris West indulging in some splendid fingerpicking in tribute to the delta blues that the band love, before launching into a thunderous riff coupled with Holland’s best growl – a song that ends with a fantastic couplet that is impossible not to sing along to: “I’m in Hell/Come and Get me”. A downer if ever there was one, despite a rhythm and riff to make you nod your head like the Churchill dog.
As if to counter the somewhat somber mood of this song, next up is “Hillbilly Moonshine”, a bawdy, playful tune with a filthy riff that makes you want to stomp about the place while drinking hooch that you brewed in your bathtub. The Carry On-style risqué lyrics are a hoot too – you might want to keep the booklet away from the kids! What follows this is yet another song about drinking (are they trying to tell us something?), a Skynyrd-style bass led stomp with enough fuzz to knock the backside off an elephant – “Pour Me Another One” is a song that is given the Trippy Wicked treatment in its second half – the first part is simply a great, melodic rock song, but then the band’s odd structure and unique riffing comes into play as Holland’s voice is doubled for a great harmonic finish!
The coda to the album is the high point, though – “Change Your Mind” is a song simultaneously uplifting and saddening, West’s superb drumming on full show for the best track on the album, Holland’s voice soaring in all its glory. King’s Rickenbacker provides a lull in the proceedings before the band launch into the final bars of the song, which then dissolves into a gorgeous last gasp of mellowness, “Home” – a perfect ending, in the best tradition of Floyd! Overall, this is everything a second album should be; a progression from the first, a sound more complex and inventive than on their first record. The album flows beautifully and displays all the creativity, sense of fun and variety that we’ve come to expect of one of the best acts to grace stages across Europe of late. There really isn’t anyone out there that’s quite like them – kudos also for making this album a masterclass in DIY (not that you’d know it was all self-recorded/released to look at or hear it!). An album that doesn’t disappoint and leaves you wanting more. I can’t wait for album number three!
Scribed by: Saúl Do Caixão