With their fifth studio album V •••–, it seems rockabilly hooligans Tiger Army return with all the stand-up bass licks and steely guitar you’d want or need from them. This follow-up to 2007’s Music From Beyond Regions is almost a decade in the making. What does all that time get? A mix of the twang we’ve been experiencing since the band’s debut in 1999.
Beginning with “Prelude” this instrumental leads perfectly into the first track “Firefall” which while featuring a great solo is not very memorable. It suffers from some over-production and the twangy guitar is totally washed out in favor of the drums. On the flip side, the rhythm section on “I am the Moth” gallops in a classic Tiger Army fashion but sadly finishes itself up rather vanilla.
One thing Tiger Army could always rely on was lead singer Nick 13’s vocals. With that, there’s an odd decision in “World Without the Moon” that his vocals don’t quite fit. Perhaps it’s the synth that throws it off. On the flipside of this “Dark & Lonely Nights” is a sock hop era anthem. Perry Como and the Everly Brothers would be proud of this absolute gem. I love the undertones of the female vocal. It has a sense of something out of an Ed Wood movie. It’s after this that the album tends to lose it’s luster a bit. “Knife’s Edge” is somewhat forgettable and “Devil Lurks on the Road” has a ’52 blues sound right here in 2016
It’s the sequencing of the tracks that really baffles me. Tracks like “Happier Times” which hearkens back to the good ole days of poodle skirts and “Candy Hearts” which is surfy and uncharacteristically positive, almost like a light in the macabre experience we’ve been getting thus far. They feel out of place here in the latter half of the album. nonetheless, it adds some much-wanted dynamism to the album.
I want to take a minute and tell you that I’m hoping “Train to Eternity” gets the music video/single treatment. It sounds like a lost Johnny Cash song and has that same rhythm that was a trademark of his music; A chug that reminds the listener of that titular train. The song is a hidden gem on the album.
Closing out the record is “When the Tide Comes In” and “In the Morning Light” the former which, much like any good Tiger Army song features Nick 13’s vocals mixed on top, as they should be. Its last wavering minute is just great musicianship. The album’s finale does a great job of lulling us to sleep the track feels like a warm embrace from a cold corpse. Absolutely beautiful, a stunner destined to close out their shows forever.
The single “Prisoner of the Night” but is memorable with a catchy riff and piano that just does not quit. It has a great sing along quality. This really works as a single, and as per usual with Tiger Army the chorus delivers. This is a ’50s throwback at its very best. I’m going to give this a good 8 out of 10. Tiger Army may never actually die and with quality seemingly back in the fold following Nick 13’s solo adventure we may be in for more great music!