A lot has changed since Black Strobe's 2007 debut album, Burn Your Own Church. Even back then it felt like Arnaud Rebotini's album was a hangover from a musical moment already passed. Back when Black Strobe was a duo - Rebotini joined then by DJ Ivan Smagghe - they were briefly regarded as one of electronic music's most promising acts.
That debut album took too long to surface however, and innevitably felt like it had missed a beat... Yet single Like A Man, a cover of the Bo Diddley record, hinted at a possible evolution in style however, wild-eyed and psychotic paranoid and sunburnt country for the 21st century. It was a little at odds with the gothic surrealism of the rest of Burn Your Own Church yet by far its most intriguing moment.
Godforsaken Roads seemingly takes that moment as its jumping off point. Opener Broken Phone Blues puts music to that horrible post-night-out moment of waking up to a broken phone and a blank memory. It is at least be partially tongue-in-cheek but Black Strobe play it straight, a psychotic hillbilly synth pop stomp of a record all the more sublime for its ridiculousness. The vocal hook that makes the chorus catchy as hell is bound to be lodged firmly in your head by the time a sleazy guitar solo kicks in two-thirds through.
Like A Man was known by many for its appearance in Guy Ritchie movie RocknRolla and the trailer of Tarantino's Django Unchained - and you have to wonder if Rebotini took that to heart. This is an album that feels like it has been created for those cinematic moments in films where characters lose their shit. Monkey Glands is based around a manic riff that travels up and down the fret board like a switchblade across your throat and on He Keeps On Calling Me we get a slow and bluesy semi-drunk sounding justification for bad behaviour. There is a track here called For Those Who Came On Earth Thru The Devil Asshole - you probably get the point.
There is also a cover version of Johnny Cash's seminal classic Folsom Prison Blues. Whilst it doesn't match the understated vitriolic anger of the original it certainly sits at home amongst Godforsaken Roads' themes of alienation, anger and human darkness. There ain't much treated sacred on this album, and so it is unsurprising that one of Cash's best known records was considered fair game.
It's a fun ride on these Godforsaken Roads, and it is at its best when it isn't being overly complicated. From The Gutter's throbbing synth bassline and guitar and vocal interplay are a prime example - it is straight for the jugular and uncompromising where in comparison elsewhere Swamp Fever's melodic country feels like a diversion. This is an album either a third two long or 50% short of ideas, but when it wants to it can take you out on the dancefloor and show you a rollicking good time all the same. Just make sure it doesn't smash you over the head with a beer bottle and make off with your phone and wallet afterwards.