The new Massive Wagons album had me excited for its arrival all through the summer that never was. I went suitably ‘Nuts’ for their last album Full Nelson. But that was back in the days when this blog was a living breathing daily dose of dispatches from the front line of the car stereo to you dear reader.
Between August 2018 & that Christmas you can see my narrative shift from ‘Hey I just discovered this new band’ to ‘I know I bang on about them a lot but…’ Since the heat death of the universe however things have been a little different. But let’s go back… Back to the before time… For but a moment.
Early signs for the new album were good. I saw them play Brixton late in 2019. They romped home belting out the stuff from the previous two albums to a huge venue who knew every word. Lead single In It Together is a stomping great 80’s throw back of a glam rock anthem with a riff so expertly hewn you can’t help but think you know the song already. Follow on single Banging On Your Stereo was good but lacked something in the originality stakes. Not that I’m knocking it. It’s a fun rock and roll shout along. Equal parts Kiss, Supergrass and Slade. The Riff sort of starts mid-way though. Like you were taping it off the radio and missed the first note because the DJ is still talking.
By the time all the details for the album House Of Noise were confirmed, the sleeve of the album (knocked up in an hour with Markerpens and Microsoft Paint?) was burned into the retina of anyone on the bands mailing list. Things were becoming clear. This was not going to be a masterpiece. It was going to be fun though. The band were pushing the record out themselves during the height of a pandemic with Earache Records dedicating much attention to vinyl variants, signed inserts and all sorts of stuff to convince the floating voters to buy in first week and get our boys a chart position.
Pushing the fan favourite Curry Song before the album launch may seem like a goof ball move, but offering packets of Rogan Mosh spices along with live cookalongs on Facebook and membership to The Curry Club is a tricky thing to look down your nose at. It’s so sincere. These guys really are heart on sleeve, honest to goodness, just like us rock fans, who happen to be in a brilliant band. I can’t odds that when I see on social media that front man Baz still has a manual labour day job and a love of doing the work on his own motorbike. In It Together indeed.
When the album finally shipped I was blown away by it’s diversity. It wasn’t the same shocking reveal to me as Full Nelson, but I was viewing them as a fan with preconceived ideas about what I wanted from a Wagons album. I wanted riffs, choruses, humour and insight of course but I also wanted guitar solos. Tokyo from Welcome To The World has a titan beating guitar solo on it. The sort of solo Slash would stop what he was doing to pay attention to. Then he’d call Jimmy Page and Joe Perry to make sure they knew the British were coming (I know Jimmy Page is one of ours and technically Slash is too but go with it for the sake of the analogy eh?).
So Massive Wagons have made a bit of a classic after all. It’s goofy fun in places like the fore mentioned Curry Song, the pricelessly anticritic Hallescrewya and the indirectly Meryl Streep dissin’ Professional Creep.
Lyrically they seem to be so at ease with train of thought stuff and yet, there is depth here too. Sad Sad Song is a relatable account of suffering from a mental health low point in the mundane everyday surroundings of a supermarket. Several songs take the music industry to task and the epic album closer Matter Of Time is a beautiful blues cathedral. A song that proves Baz can really really sing and that the rest of the band are tight, consummate musos who can expand and contract around a groove.
And mutha flippin’ YET!!!!! The song I’ve chosen to represent Massive Wagons on my long dead blog for 2020 is the mid-album nugget o’ fried gold Hero. It’s here because that shopping list of wants from the album listed above are all screamingly present in this one track.
Don’t let the Foo Fighters-ish title fool you. Nor the AC/DC style intro. Actually, let them both fool you. They might even prepare you for a song that sounds like it could have come from the studio while Dio and Sabbath worked out what Heaven And Hell should sound like. Hero is a heavy metal anthem in the mould of All of the above with thudding Iron Man drums, Angus flavoured sustain and a Radar Love on beta blockers bass rumble. Most importantly of all though. The solo. That’s IT. That’s the thing I wanted on my British Heavy Metal album. Those notes. Soaring to the sky like it’s 1988 and my cut off denim jacket needs space on it for one more patch. An MW logo.
House Of Noise broke the top ten album chart in that first week of release. They’re now legitimately on the radar of all serious (and most silly) rock fans in the UK. They’re peeking into view in the US. They managed this while holding down day jobs in a year that nobody could tour.
What a bunch of Heroes.