The album gets off to a rocking start with Only Friend. The song is based around chunky riff that is present throughout but frontman Phil Campbell's gravelly vocals are the main focus. He really has the perfect voice for this sort of music. Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer make for a a solid and unflashy guitar duo. Surprisingly for blues-based music, there is little in the way of extended soloing but their talents for melody and songcraft shine through. One of the highlights of the song is the slightly gospel section in the pre-chorus that makes good use of vocal harmonies from the whole band. Ain't No Telling is up next and has a distinctive American southern rock vibe. The riffs have a snaking, boogie feel to them and the laid-back verses with some nice snappy lead breaks under Campbell's vocals bring to mind The Allman Brothers Band without the overpowering organ. There is a solo in this song, and it is rooted deeply in the blues with choice phrasing and obvious melody. Pride follows and starts off slowly. Campbell channels his inner Don Henley here and shows that his voice is far more versatile than many of his contemporaries. Once the drums come in, the song is driven by a subtle bass line from Nick Fyffe that allows the guitars to intertwine on top of it. It is very chilled out but does pick up the pace a little towards the end, building naturally and unobtrusively. Be Lucky gets back to the pure rock 'n' roll sound of the first two songs and is the catchiest so far. The chorus is infectious and the rest of the song is supported by a simple riff that sounds raw and gutsy. It is one of the best songs on the album and will be stuck in your head for weeks. Single Midnight Black is up next and this is another really strong track. It has a real energy and sounds a little like a ballsier version of Status Quo. It has another excellent chorus and it is no wonder why they chose to release it as a single. It has a fun video (see below) to go with it that really encapsulates everything that the band are about - people having fun with good music! A nice solo is the icing on the cake and completes the picture, plus we even get a nice little drum outro from Damon Wilson!
Chinese Lanterns is the most stripped back song on the whole album. Campbell once again uses the delicate side of his voice and some understated slide guitar really enhances the mood of the piece. The Temperance Movement can really rock, but when it is needed they can also be gentle and their ballads are generally excellent. When they play this song live, they do it totally acoustically without any microphones or amplifiers. I can only imagine what a wonderful experience that must be! The next highlight is my favourite song on the album: Lovers & Fighters. If an Eagles influence is heard anywhere on this album then it is on this song. It is the most beautiful song on the album by a mile and opens with Campbell backed only by some acoustic guitar. Soon, some delicate keyboards help to fill out the fledgling chorus. Slide guitar really adds to the mood and the second chorus sees the whole band harmonising with Campbell to excellent effect. If Glenn Frey and Don Henley had written this song and put it on One of These Nights, it would have been a massive hit - that is how good this song is! After that melancholy, the album ramps it back up with the anthemic Take it Back. This is party rock at it's best with a catchy vocal refrain in the intro that is sure to go down a storm live. This also acts as a sort of chorus and it really is good fun. A real toe-tapper! The album comes to an end with two slow-burning epics. The first of which is Smouldering which is excellent. This song is sure to get many lighters (or phones) in the air with it's big chorus and laid-back guitar work. The thing that strikes me about Potashnick and Sayer is that there is always a lot going on in their playing but it never dominates the song. It is always adding something necessary and never turns into showboating. This is often my problem with some blues music, but The Temperance Movement do not fall into this trap. Serenity is the second of the two and, while it is not quite as good as Smouldering, it still brings to the album to an end and ends it on a high (not that there are really any lows here!). If I had a criticism of the album it would be that it would have been better to end the album with Smouldering and move Serenity somewhere else in the track listing - or maybe even have saved it for the next album as having two very similar songs together slightly ruins the effect of the second one. That is my only real issue with an album that is very enjoyable and a band that are surely destined for bigger things. With many sold out shows ahead and behind them, I am sure it will not be long before they are household names.
The album was released on 16th September 2013 via Earache Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Midnight Black.