Coconut is the third album from British garage rock trio the Archie Bronson Outfit. It comes four years after their last album, the well-reviewed Derdang, Derdang, and six years after their debut, Fur.
The Archie Bronson Outfit mix the stripped-down blues and garage rock of bands like the White Stripes and the Kills with the twitchy angularity of post-punk bands like Wire and Gang of Four. Singer/guitarist Sam Windett sings with shaky uncertainty, sounding like he’s had too much disappointment, too much heartache, and too much coffee. He’s backed by the propulsive rhythm section of Dorian Hobday on bass and guitar, and Mark Cleveland on drums. Their sound is kinetic, paranoid, and slightly out of control. It’s a formula that can be very engaging, but can also wear out its welcome.
They address this problem by bringing in former DFA member Tim Goldsworthy to produce. As part of DFA, Goldsworthy was responsible for the post-punk disco sounds of the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, as well as the nouveau disco of Hercules & the Love Affair. He forces the Archie Bronson Outfit to reign in their garage rock and dabble in dance punk.
While opening track “Magnetic Warrior” is standard ABO, “Shark Tooth” adds disco drum and bass to the discordant guitar, and layers Windett’s voice in reverb. “Hoola” goes even further down the dance road, offering a four-on-the-floor beat, and toning down the guitar noise. “Chunk” works a mellow groove, sounding a little like the Talking Heads in one of their funkier moods.
Lest any longtime ABO fans think the boys are going soft, they offer some raging garage punk on songs like “Wild Strawberries” and the cacophonous “You Have a Right to a Mountain Life/One Up On Yourself.”
The album ends with the melodic, jangly “Run Gospel Singer,” which could almost be a sweet song if it wasn’t surrounded by so many creepy effects. Windett sounds like he’s singing from the grave, and the band sound like they are accompanying him from the underworld. There is a similar effect to the psychedelic “Bite It and Believe,” in which Windett seems to be singing from the bathroom outside of the studio.
Coconut sees the Archie Bronson Outfit expanding their sound pallet, getting out of their comfort zone, and growing as artists. Tim Goldsworthy helps the band beef up their sound without losing their identity, adding grooves without losing the anxiety and nervousness that make the band tick. The end result is an album that should please fans of the Archie Bronson Outfit as well as LCD Soundsystem fans impatient for James Murphy to finish the follow up to Sound of Silver.