A fever-dream from the apocalypse: Night Beats new album Outlaw R&B is a raucous ode to the outcasts — the titular outlaws that go against the grain with whom Danny Lee Blackwell has always had an affinity for. But the backdrop of Night Beats dusty, gritty backroads where their psychedelic rock and R&B tinged influences meet are painted by more than just an earnest restlessness. Created at the height of California’s wildfires, as well as under the shadow of riots and a nation in lockdown, Outlaw R&B doesn’t shy away from the unrest and uncertainty that helps contextualize it. Blitzing riffs and a jangly melody set the stage on the hook-filled “Revolution,” while the haunting gallops of “New Day” emblazon an impending doom onto its wailing guitars.
But album opener “Stuck in the Morning” gets right to the heart of the matter, digging into the monotony that became everyday life during the pandemic, crushed under the weight of our own existential dread even as the world around us seemed to further collapse. Charging right into the thick of it with an almost sunny disposition, “Stuck in the Morning” meets the encroaching hopelessness with a sprinting, glowing melody — and that’s really the spirit of Outlaw R&B. If the ship is sinking, how should we be spending the time we have left?
“Never Look Back” captures that ethos brilliantly, with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s Robert Levon Been joining Blackwell on a dizzying dust-up of dueling percussion and guitars. While on the acid-blast starry dream and album closer “Holy Roller,” Blackwell slips into a Bowie-esque crash that serves as a spectacularly spiraling finale to an album that never really takes its foot off the gas in the first place.
Listen to Night Beats’ new album Outlaw R&B below!