Launched in the midst of a global and deadly pandemic, it’s startling to hear the opening lines of The Primevals’ latest album as Michael Rooney gravely intones, “We die young here” on the opening song of the same name. Launched by spectral organ and twinned evil guitars over a driving beat, the song is a William Burroughs’ like nightmare as played by the electric horsemen of the apocalypse. It’s a compelling introduction to this intense slab of garage band rock which sees Glasgow’s Primevals hunkering down and getting back to basics which, in their case, means a rumble of menacing guitars, hoodoo keyboards and Rooney’s midnight ramblings. As the title hints at, the band are in familiar territory and their slash and burn approach allows for 16 songs in less than an hour.
With Rooney at the helm, Martyn Roger and Tom Rafferty man the guitars while ex bassist John Honeyman is now on keyboard duties. They’re driven by the pile driving rhythm section of Ady Gillespie and Paul Bridges on a set of songs which are less diverse than those on their last album, Dislocation. Here, there’s less swamp rock and more Nuggets and new wave punk attack on show – think Radio Birdman, The Modern Lovers and The Dictators – the latter especially on Best Days. Turned up LOUD this is quite exhilarating especially when the guitarists get to duelling on The Have Nots, giving the song a twist of Flamin’ Groovieness, while the defiant snarl of Hard Core just about defines where the band have been at for the past decade as they fly the flag for load and proud rock’n’roll. Having said that, they also hammer away perfectly on User with its wailing blues harp and on Powershake which has Stooges’ like snakehips. The wonderfully titled Heavy Freakout is an all out assault as the band rev up to top gear with the guitars twanging away and even a brief swerve into Morricone territory in the midst of it all.
On vocals, Rooney prowls over the songs like a harbinger of doom with many of his lyrics pessimistic if not nihilistic. It’s like a bad trip, man, and the band do get quite trippy on several of the songs including P.T.S.D. (which kicks off as if they were Iron Butterfly) and on the mesmerising exotica of Now Is The Time which features sitar and wah wah guitar. There’s more than a hint of The Doors in this and Jim Morrison’s ghost can also be glistened in the bluesy Wanna Be Loved, an antidote to Love Street.
Second Nature is powerful, heavy, trippy and hugely enjoyable. We should give thanks to the likes of The Primevals, bands who have kept the freak flag flying.
Second Nature is available on CD along with a limited edition 12 track vinyl version, both available here. Glasgow folk can also pick up the vinyl from the south side record store, Some Great Reward, and in these times, it’s important to support your local record store.