Filthy Friends are good, clean fun.
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Released: 25th August 2017
“I hate the business,” Peter Buck told Rolling Stone in 2016, five years after the end of R.E.M. “Everything except writing songs, playing songs and recording them.” That desire to get away from “the money, the politics”, but to keep working, restlessly and hungrily, has given us three low-key solo albums since 2011, along with a number of collaborations with former bandmates and friends.
Most recently, Buck came together with Corin Tucker of the newly reunited Sleater-Kinney, guitarist Kurt Bloch and long-time associates Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin (on bass and drums), forming Filthy Friends initially just to play covers. Later, they were spurred into studio time, recording the fierce ‘Despierta’ for the anti-Trump ‘30 Songs For 30 Days’ project.
Now, there’s a full-length ‘Invitation’ from these friends and, after the less-than-stellar final R.E.M. albums, Buck sounds invigorated. There are trademark touches of jangle, but it’s mostly a lean, punky 40 minutes. The garage-rocking rattle of ‘The Arrival’ and the furious ‘No Forgotten Son’ – decrying the “empty shell of what this country should have been” – are immediate highlights, along with the sugar-sweet rush of ‘Any Kind Of Crowd’.
Tucker’s lyrics, meanwhile, are as fuelled by poignancy as by fury, her paint-stripping, glassy wail slightly tempered and sweetened for the Fleetwood Mac-ish ‘Faded Afternoon’ and the slightly daft glam-rock boogie of ‘Come Back Shelley’, but just as passionate as ever. ‘Invitation’ might not break much new ground – the spidery, staccato ‘Windmill’ straying a little too close to ‘Marquee Moon’ to be called Television-esque, ‘Brother’ doing the same with a Pixies bassline – but these are fairly minor gripes; Filthy Friends are good, clean fun. Rob Mesure