Alabama 3 are well known for mixing rock and roll, dance, rap, gospel and everything in between, and that's exactly what they do on their 7th studio album. At best, it's dramatic, innovative and distinctive; at worst, histrionic and caricatural.
There's a reason Alabama 3 were once widely regarded as a novelty act. Entirely apart from the fact that they were originally called The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine and their two leading men go by the names Larry Love and The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love, their particular mish-mash of genres does have a taste of the gimmicky about it. Thankfully, these days their music demonstrates enough attitude and originality to make you stand up and take them seriously... For the most part, at least.
Revolver Soul gets off to an effective start, as the creaking violin and reverberating drums of opener 'Oh Christ' create a sinister atmosphere, before giving way to the gospel led 'She Blessed Me' and its invigorating melody. 'Bad to the Bone' juxtaposes bouncy electronics with apocalyptic choral vocals, while Shane MacGowan lends his recognisable brawl to the intro of 'Fix It'. Retro, punky guitars are married perfectly with Larry Love's throaty growl on lead single 'Jacqueline', though elsewhere his idiosyncratic vocal style can become almost parodic.
The lyrics can be irksome at times, despite the fact that they are often intended to be tongue in cheek. 'Bad Girl' opens with an uncomfortable spoken word intro, before its chorus proclaims, "Never gonna shove me into one of your f***ed up stereotypes". And though 'Vietnamistam' is one of the more musically alluring tracks here, it's not quite successful in tackling its difficult subject matter. Yet strangely, their eccentric, self-aware humour works perfectly on the likes of 'Keep Your Powder Dry', where Byronic is rhymed with Masonic, tectonic, colonic, bionic and even gin and tonic! Revolver Soul may arouse the odd cringe here and there, but no one could accuse Alabama 3 of putting out a dull record.