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Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

"Do you think that you are special?"

Buckfast doesn't think so. They KNOW they are. This cult, Californian band belong to that exclusive breed of over-achievers who don't feel the need to shout about it. Self-assured, confidant even, but never showy, never cocksure. No Gallaghers or Bono here. Buckfast leave their talking to the album. And what an album!

If I didn't know better, I'd never have believed Turn was a debut. Buckfast eclipse their rivals the way Mohammed Ali might have sidestepped an opponent - easily, naturally and gracefully. Then, like Ali, they stick one on your chin and you're floored. This has to be the most assured debut since Interpol, if not Stone Roses, but don't think you can pin these guys down as the latest Joy Division wannabe band. Give them a side parting and dress them in the finest suits, it won't make any difference. F*** the posturing, they just want to rock.

Which they do! From the opening seconds of Optimist, the band's fantastic dynamics are revealed. Bass-lines to die for. Choruses to live for. Blazing guitars call-out in triumph, securely aware of the tight, rhythm safety net below. If Doves or Coldplay had any testicles between them, they might be able to deliver something like Walk Away. For Buckfast, it's merely one of their many alt-rock anthems. The sound is their own, but fans of U2, Muse, The National, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ours, and Dredg will all find something to love here. The title track, for example, climaxes with a moment that is pure Muse - Rian Riddle's trapeze vocals only ever truly letting go during the soaring choruses.

There are too many standouts to mention. The knowingly titled Tear us apart certainly recalls late period New Order for a moment, but Manchester's evergreen glumsters never sounded so defiant. Satellite is signature U2 guitarist Vic Belonogoff covering The Edge's part with no visible panty line. Yet if Buckfast remind me of any band it has to be early Radiohead. By 'early', I mean post Pablo Honey, pre greatness Radiohead. Turn is more accomplished than that debut, but stops just short of being another The Bends. A few more ballads might have done it. They just needed a fake plastic tree, but instead they left us high and dry. The final track here, Coming up for air gamely reaches for the Street Spirit baton, but these guys just can't resist rockin' out. Thus, even this song goes the way of most others on the album stratospheric.

I didn't expect to love this. Yet Turn is a bruised, bloodied collection of songs from an honest band whose stories of triumph from adversity are a welcome antithesis to the feigned neurosis of many of their peers. The band takes its name from a form of caffeinated, Trappist wine. Lord knows I shouldn't touch the stuff, as I imagine it might render even the most Poe-faced giddily intoxicated and hyperactive. As perilous as it sounds though, I think we should all try it once.

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