The tunes of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats have a certain timelessness that conceptually and simultaneously spans several decades. Similar to previous releases, the tracks of the band’s fourth full-length, The Night Creeper, possess a cinematic quality that seems to nebulously lurk somewhere in the shadowy, low-key world of film noir cinema, the seedy, underbelly counterculture movements of the ’60s, and the often gritty, violent world as depicted in the films of the ’70s. Though the band has not made any huge stylistic shifts in their sound since their inception, The Night Creeper is a return-to-form of sorts and the album has slightly more in common with 2011’s Bloodlust than it does with their polished, more psych-heavy breakthrough album Mind Control.
The cinematic quality of The Night Creeper is impossible to shake as the music often evokes kaleidoscopic images of garbage-strewn alleys, rainy lamp-lit streets, and lonely souls wandering aimlessly amidst a city landscape inhabited by junkies, bums, prostitutes, and a shadowy, sociopathic stalker occasionally spied skulking amidst a neon glow. The album opener, “Waiting for Blood,” stands alongside “I’ll Cut You Down,” “Mind Crawler,” and “Melody Lane” as some of the band’s strongest, most immediately gratifying material. “Waiting for Blood” matches fuzzed-out riffs with subtle keyboards and some of the best guitar solos to be found on an Uncle Acid album.
Uncle Acid’s greatest strength, by far, is the riffs. The combination of doom metal, psychedelia, and garage rock sensibilities has yielded a series of albums that are hook-laden from start to finish, and The Night Creeper continues the trend. Principal songwriter Kevin R. Starrs (otherwise known as Uncle Acid himself) has an ear and talent for crafting catchy riffs, and he consistently marries to the music interesting turns of phrase and equally as gratifying vocal melodies. “Melody Lane,” the album’s second single, best captures the sordid depravity that prowls behind much of the band’s music. The track, with its droning organ and hard rock riffs, is irrefutably catchy, but there is an underlying malevolence to the music that is punctuated by the lyrical thoughts of the song’s antagonist: “I saw her dance when she first hit the scene / Creep joint romancing with amphetamines / But tramps like me stay in shadows unseen / I want her.”
The Night Creeper is a somewhat grittier affair compared to its predecessor, but the change is subtle and almost imperceptible—the guitars are grimier and the overall production is a bit rougher. While most of the album plays out in similar fashion to the rest of the band’s material—there’s something to be said for consistency—the band really spreads its wings on the longest track of the album, “Slow Death.” The nine-minute track is a dreary, laid-back jam of comedown psychedelia that is, for the most part, carried along by a gentle, repetitive bass swell. The song, which is observed through the eyes of a potential victim, eventually builds in intensity as layered guitars overpower and dominate the languid pace replacing it with an unsettling din.
While The Night Creeper does not really reveal a large degree of progression or growth for Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, it does show that catchy songwriting and strong performances can go a long way. The band has dialed into a specific sound and they are making the most of it without necessarily rehashing old ideas or recycling riffs—an impressive feat considering that this is album number four and their strongest material to date.
01) Waiting for Blood
02) Murder Nights
04) Pusher Man
05) Yellow Moon
06) Melody Lane
07) The Night Creeper
09) Slow Death
10) Black Motorcade