Simon Wright finds all the distorted guitars and power chords he needs in a comeback album for Cardiff’s Keys as they pay a tonal homage to the stoner-greatness of The Grateful Dead with Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia.
And off they go in pursuit of the dead deadhead’s head. What they will do with it? God only knows – make brawn perhaps? As per earlier incarnations (Murray the Hump, THE Keys) the thrill with Keys is you just strap yourself in for this 40 odd minute wild ride and sit wide eyed and ears pricked as it all unfolds for you through the windscreen. The action never stops but it’s anything but one paced, there is more invention in this one album than many of their peers have managed in their entire back catalogues. The 7 minute plus opening track Pussyfooting/(Gareth Bale) Killed My Scene serves as an uncompromising statement of intent with the sudden changes of pace and deft switches of direction that define the album – round one corner a solid wall of rough cast guitar, next up fresh hillsides of soaring vocals, hook after sweet hook, guitar solos with the kind of soul packed immediacy that Neil Young trademarked. Echoes of the Kinks and Syd Barrett era Floyd persist in the grimy whimsy of the storytelling and the sudden appearance of pretty melodies amongst dirty guitars.
It was no surprise in some respects too learn that this was recorded with few overdubs over a couple of days on the stage at Resolven Miner’s Institute. It has the urgency of a live recording although one delivered by a crack outfit who walk the tightrope between the spontaneous and the shambolic with some ease. As for standouts, take your pick, the instrumental title track takes a thrilling trip with Ennio Morricone on overdrive and the simply beautiful Broken Bones is an end that leads you right back to the beginning. Listen to the whole thing, many times, you’ll get your reward.
Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia is available now.