BIGELF
"Hex"

(Custard)

01. Madhatter
02. Bats In the Belfry II
03. Pain Killers
04. Disappear
05. Rock and Roll Contract
06. Sunshine Suicide
07. Falling Bombs
08. Black Moth
09. Carry the Load
10. Burning Bridges
11. Bats In the Belfry I
12. $

RATING: 10/10

It takes balls the size of church bells to refer to your own band as the "evil BEATLES." To actually back that statement up, and then some, requires the kind of talent that comes down the pike once, maybe twice a decade, if we're lucky. BIGELF backs it up, and then some, on an album that distills an entire decade into one potent, heady brew of psychedelic power pop, proto-metal, arena rock and heavy riff bashing.

When I say the entire decade of the 1970s, I mean it — the opening track is a better "Sabotage"-era BLACK SABBATH song than you could possibly imagine. "Bats In the Belfry" manages to capture both Roger Waters's claustrophobic eye on the world and break down into a wholly unexpected bit of KING CRIMSON or ELP Moog prog madness at the end (that's the end of part one, mind you, which comes way after part two on the record, which makes perfect sense somehow after you've heard it). Want some T. REX? Check the irony-dripping "Rock and Roll Contract" out. Keep digging, and you'll find little pieces of everything from URIAH HEEP to ELO to BOWIE to CHEAP TRICK to the friggin' BAY CITY ROLLERS, all ground up and reconstituted into a band that's so impossibly retro it not only defies the imagination, but somehow ends up coming off new and fresh.

Of course, such a pastiche will only work if it's done so spectacularly well that every note, every keyboard zizzle and guitar flash, every droll vocal, drips with some authentic madness and enough '70s tight-pants swagger to make you believe that they believe that an extended organ solo or Doctor Who keyboards or a goddamn mellotron can save rock and roll, if not the entire universe. BIGELF perform like their lives depend on it, and there's not a lazy moment to be found on "Hex" — if there's a pre-chorus, they've harmonized it to pieces. If there's a place for a big, organic, analog drum fill to thunder down, then thunder down it does. Their sheer conviction moves the project well out of camp or novelty territory — it's not long till you do believe, and you're wound tightly up in the whole ridiculous rock opera with no hope of escape.

Where has this band been all my life? Cryogenically frozen? BIGELF know more cool things about the 1970's than you could shake a wizard's staff at and they've shoehorned every last one of them into this unbelievable prog/glam/metal/whatever epic. This is massive, amazing rock and roll that, despite its retro vibe, is so far ahead of the curve it almost seems unfair to stack it up against anything else coming out this year. (The sad postscript to that is, of course, that this album's been done and out since 2004 but it's only now that a US label has stepped up to release it.) Speaking of bold statements, here's one: if BIGELF did exist in the heyday of ELO, QUEEN, or "Ziggy Stardust"-era DAVID BOWIE, not only would BIGELF be mentioned in the same breath as those acts… they'd give ‘em a fucking run for their money. They're that good. For Chrissake, don't miss this album.

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