ALBUM REVIEW: Twisted Wheel – Satisfying The Ritual (Twisted Wheel)

Formed in Greater Manchester in 2008, Twisted Wheel were once feted as the future of guitar music, appealing to old mods and punks and indie kids alike.

Early singles won acclaim from the likes of Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, NME and Q, while their self-titled debut album, released in 2009, scraped into the lower reaches of the charts.

They earned support slots with the likes of Oasis, Kasabian, Paul Weller, the Happy Mondays and Ian Brown, and were a popular live draw in their own right.

However, they couldn’t have timed it much worse, as the musical times were a-changing, and their patchy follow-up album, 2012’s Do It Again failed to chart, and, after disappointing sales and the demands of touring took their toll, the band split the following year.

Twisted Wheel are back with a new line-up and a third album.

Fast forward to 2018, and the band reconvened, and fans of old not only remembered them, but bought their comeback EP Jonny Guitar in sufficient numbers to make it No.1 in the physical charts.

Now, two years later, with tours, festival appearances and fresh support slots for Liam Gallagher under their belt, comes the acid test of a third long-player from main man Jonny Brown and his new bandmates Ben Warwick, Harry Lavin and Ben Robinson.

Things kick off in style with Nomad Hat, one of three singles released prior to the album. Brimming with positivity, it’s powered by a throbbing bassline and is very much a return to the way Twisted Wheel sounded on their first album.

I Am Immune is a fast-paced garage rocker which carries a ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’ message from Jonny, propelled by a swaggering riff, while bassist Harry’s Black And Blue offers a melancholic contrast: “I don’t believe in anyone, she took those pills and now she’s gone”.

DNA, which has also been released as a single, is the most emotional song on the album, telling the story of Brown’s mother – “the queen of my dreams” – losing her battle with alcoholism.

Ghost Man is a delicious slice of psychedelic surf rock which starts like the Dead 60s (remember them?) before going full-out rock ‘n’ roll and is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Wheels Of Love is a bluesy 60s garage stomper containing more meaty riffing, but after that the wheels start to come off the album a little for me, and what was shaping up to be a very good record indeed loses its way a bit.

It’s almost like side two of the record is intended to show a different side to Twisted Wheel, as it’s far removed from the return-to-form that side one undoubtedly represents.

Wrong Side Of The Road is an Arctic Monkeys-lite offering, while 20/20 Vision starts off with a great bluesy riff, but ends up sounding like a jam they couldn’t be bothered to write proper lyrics for, and might have been better left as an instrumental.

Rebel, reworked slightly from the Jonny Guitar EP, contains so many twists and tunrs that it ends up lacking focus, while the title track is a psychedelic slow-burner, featuring a laid-back rap, and closer Show Me has Dylan-esque vocals based around sparse piano and acoustic guitar.

It’s not a bad album, but it’s certainly a record of two halves, and I much prefer the first one, though long-term fans may feel it’s the sound of the band stepping out of their comfort zone. 6/10.

Gary Welford owner