[sic] Magazine

Birth Of Joy – Get Well

You’d think Get Well would be an easy enough sentiment to translate from Dutch to English, but you’d be wrong. Utrecht three-piece Birth Of Joy are on their fourth LP since 2010 here, yet their struggles to convert musicianship into engaging music continue. Just as per their last LP, Prisoner, which took liberal influence from the likes The Doors, Sabbath and Zeppelin, the band still lean on hard blues-rock, watering their forebears down by leading almost every track with Gertjan Gutman’s organ.

If anything Get Well is more inventive in comparison, but so too does it feel stranded out of time, caught somewhere between its influences and the present, mired in a no-man’s-land circa the early 00s when bands like Kasabian were starting to make it big. And, look away now haters, there is a touch of the Meighan and Pizzornos to a track like “Blisters”. It comes on strong with heavy organ and guitar riffs, cutting away to an extended bass rhythm and Ozzy-like spoken-word that’ll ensure no radio play, before settling into punchy indie-rock swagger that’s just a bit too eager to please. The same issue plagues first single “You Got Me Howling”. It’s supremely catchy, built on a simple riff and energetic drums, wailing later through gnarly solos, but it feels retro not in a nostalgic way, rather an awkward, outdated kinda way.

When Gutman’s organ repeats take Get Well down a poppier, prog route they, such as on “Choose Sides”, they then feel uneventful and aimless. It’s not all bad news, however, as the headlong riffs on “Carabiner” cannot fail to get the toes tapping, the track coursing an elemental sense of momentum and it doesn’t do much wrong in fairness, save for being entirely predictable and very safe within the confines of loud rock. “Midnight Cruise”, on the other hand, a fusion of funky blues and smooth jazz, proves how hard it is to make use of The Doors’ deluxe organ set-up credibly, especially as frontman Kevin Stunneberg imitates David Byrne in some sort of lothario style for its duration. When it’s not making you wince like this, Get Well is often also, sadly, rather dull. Tracks start slowly, building to big closes, trailing off when the band should know better. And the torch-bearing ballads, like “Numb”, are wildly indulgent in true 70s style.

In many ways, though often stylistically different, Get Well brings Howlin’ Rain’s mess of an album The Russian Wilds to mind. Ethan Miller had Rick Rubin’s over-influence to blame for that album’s demise, but ultimately it fell down because it didn’t – or couldn’t – translate to foreign shores. Its sounds were so at odds with modern-day Britain that they fell on entirely unwilling ears, finding favour only a little closer to home. Outside of a few Classic Rock enthusiasts, the same argument can be levelled at Get Well.

Best track: “Carabiner”

~Get Well is out now on Suburban & Long Branch Records/SPV.~