By turns full of piss and vinegar and heavy with misty-eyed nostalgia, Pink Mountaintops’ slightly schizophrenic fourth long-player Get Back could quite feasibly be sold as Stephen McBean’s “mid-life crisis album”. Started ostensibly as an outlet for the singer and an ever-changing supporting cast to explore ideas too weird to filter through his main group Black Mountain, the project’s previous releases have actually been relatively straight-laced – a droning folk raga here, a Velvets-inspired chug there – but whilst much of Get Back unsurprisingly revolves around punked-up variations on familiar classic rock tropes it also includes what is probably the most “WTF?” moment in McBean’s discography to date: album centerpiece “North Hollywood Microwaves”, a sonic splatter-fest of scrappy motorik drumming and skronking saxophone squeals, ends with a frantic, croaked three-minute rap from Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy that positively drips filth, covering anal sex, stomach pumps, crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford, polar bears and – as described in great and varied detail – the sticky subject of cum addiction. As far as potentially disastrous ideas go, it’s up there with buying yourself a sports car for your 50th birthday or drunk-texting your ex-wife’s new husband, but somehow it works, especially in terms of proving that McBean isn’t quite ready to slip into a life of sanitized middle-aged domesticity. Elsewhere, recollections of teenage kicks and “The Second Summer Of Love” – 1987, in case you were wondering – are set against the kind of Stones-worshipping boogie (“Sell Your Soul”) and sneering Kraut-punk (“Ambulance City”) Primal Scream have spent half a career trying to perfect, whilst “Sixteen” combines Springsteen power and Steinman pomp to anthemic effect. There may be few things sadder than a man clinging onto the glory days of his youth, but here McBean manages to relive his wild years with his dignity – and his rock & roll reputation – intact.
Get Back is out now on Jagjaguwar; listen to “North Hollywood Microwaves” below.