The Bevis Frond

White Numbers

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After taking a seven-year break from releasing his own records, during which he stayed busy working with the Psychic Circle label on their noble quest to reissue every garage and psych song that hasn't been already, Nick Saloman resurrected his Bevis Frond on the 2011 LP Leaving of London. The album was his usual mix of Hendrix-meets-Mascis guitar prowess, Byrds-ian folk-rock, and raw Wipers-like recording technique, and for that it was as worthy as anything Bevis Frond had issued up to that point. That's to say very worthy, as the man's lengthy career has been one long string of excellent albums. The only thing about Leaving of London was that it felt a little restrained, maybe a bit tentative. Not so on the expansive double-disc follow-up, 2013's White Numbers. This time out the recording is a little more lively, the songs a little tougher, the guitar solos a little more ferocious. It's more like the comeback one might expect, as Saloman and his band stick close to the kind of hooky, overloaded-by-guitar tracks that the Frond have made into an art form, with Saloman and co-guitarist Paul Simmons ripping the stuffing out of their guitars on their solos. Though at over two hours, one might think the album would overstay its welcome, but there are enough great songs and performances to keep you on board until the end. Indeed, songs like "Cruel World," "Dead Weight," and "Dream It" feel like they could have slotted into classic old albums without any ill effects, a couple songs ("Just Cause [Wins Wars]," "Major Crime") have some punky kick to them, one sounds like a lost sunshine pop gem ("More Chalk"), the few quieter folky interludes provide a nice bit of variety, and the 42-minute jam that ends the album in a long guitar battle is surprisingly easy to get through thanks to the range of dynamics the band employs. The high level of songcraft, Saloman's devotion to his sound, and the fierce performances on White Numbers show that anyone who thought maybe the Bevis Frond were past their prime was just dead wrong, and this is a welcome addition to their catalog.

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