Five albums in, the charm is starting to wear a bit thin

Just like clockwork, Airbourne’s latest album comes three years after their previous one and if you know Airbourne at all, you know pretty much what to expect.

If there is a difference, it’s that this time out the lads actually show some restraint, especially with regard to Joel O’Keeffe. His grating vocals on Breakin’ Outta Hell became a little too much after a few goes around, taking a bit of the fun out of what was essentially nothing but a good time party record. Maybe because this one was recorded live in the studio, O’Keeffe doesn’t sound so manic on Boneshaker, but whatever the reason, his vocals don’t set teeth on edge the way they did on the previous set.

The title track builds from a slow burn exactly like early Johnston-era AC/DC, a furrow well ploughed by this band before, so don’t go into this expecting any surprises. Boneshaker is straight-up heads-down beer-swillin’ tail-chasin’ rock n roll. Sex to Go has a Motörhead-style swing to it, Backseat Boogie needs no further comment, Blood in the Water brings sharks into the equation, if only as a metaphor, and Weapon of War sounds kinda mean and almost serious for a moment as they roll back the pace to stretch the song over a huge four and a half minutes. It’s the least energetic and least effective they’ve ever sounded.

If that’s not your mug of beer, there’s still plenty of upbeat rockers like mission statement Rock N Roll for Life and the Sunset Strip-flavoured Switchblade Angel, big gang vocals and guitar solos ablaze, but there might be some track-skipping this time, even on an album that only just nudges the half-hour mark. It’s not that Airbourne has changed in any real, fundamental way, it’s just that, five albums in, the charm is starting to wear a bit thin. Airbourne have always been excellent mimics, far less better at real creativity. AC/DC and Motörhead succeeded by taking the lessons of the early rock pioneers and making them into something of their own. Airbourne’s entire schtick has been to flat out copy that, rinse and repeat. There’s only so long they’ll be able to get away with that.

  1. Boneshaker
  2. Burnout the Nitro
  3. This is Our City
  4. Sex to Go
  5. Backseat Boogie
  6. Blood in the Water
  7. She Gives Me Hell
  8. Switchblade Angel
  9. Weapon of War
  10. Rock n Roll for Life