They’ve been playing ‘skuzzy blown out heavy rock to whoever can stand them’ across the US east coast for five years now, but APE! have just gone and made a second album to show for it. One which seems to be a tale of two halves…
Once an unnecessarily long three minutes of a bluesy stadium rock solo introduction has done its thing, the album can actually begin to find its feet in one way or another, starting with ‘Summer Rambo’. With the vocal greeting you finally with an explosively guttural roar, you’re carried right the way through until ‘Foghat Continued’ hits, and, unfortunately, all that momentum is abandoned. The gut-wrenching blasts that came before are instead traded in for a weaker and less convincing clean vocal, the rest of the band lose their drive and the drums lack the same impact they wielded previously. All is not lost though; there’s a welcome return over the next six minutes to the same kind of grunge-flecked rock and roll energy that APE! smashed out earlier.
Up to now all the tracks have clocked up pretty much the same uniform duration of three and a half minutes. The band decide to lengthen things out a little starting with ‘Noisy Beast’, which works well enough without sounding stretched. The same can’t be said for the seemingly never-ending ‘Kindness Equals Weakness’, dragging on in an effort to resurrect those lifeless clean vocals back from the dead. Ending the record with ‘Mountain Man Victory Song’ is a bit of an odd one, sounding more like a bonus cover track more than one that fits with the rest of the record. It would have been the perfect track to lift ’1991′ up halfway through its duration.
It’s a record that’s halfway there and halfway not: 1991 delivers just as much in driving rock and roll as it does in disappointments. Even limited to eight tracks, it still feels far longer than it should, making for yet another one of those albums that could have made for a storming EP.