Riding on red, Turin trio pull all the stops to dig deep and stand tall.
If BTW’s 2015 debut "Imago" provided an exhilarating experience with an elegant metal clang to it, the band’s sophomore effort tones down the heaviness in favor of pop hooks, and the results of such a shift are truly remarkable. From the flaying riff of “Phenomenons” to the fuzzy finale of “Freedom” – this alliteration a fitting definition for the effing vigor that makes “Rouge” a surefire success – there’s a melodic grip in every piece, with the transparent “Blah Blah Blah” bound to take pride of place in the listener’s head.
Yet it’s not the sweet nothings, nor “Rise Up Together” which is a progressive twist on traditional rock anthem, that’s the most telling sign of the ensemble’s self-confidence; it’s the choice of “Down To The River” – a blues-bent ballad – as a record’s second track. Throwing aside the inevitable comparisons of Federico Mondelli’s voice to Adam Levine’s approach, this initially acoustic, flamenco-tinged song flowers into harmonic heaven where the vocalist’s guitars create almost unbearable tension, and Marco Verdone’s anxious bass runs in “Animals” take it to the limit. To help paint “Shibuya” in nocturnal neon, Paul Canetti’s drums deliver a solid groove – to break into sharp funk for “Gold Diggers” – although the tune of “Peeps” is getting dangerously close to “In The Court Of The Crimson King” before punky chorus washes the similarities away.
Still, “The Game” may be the answer to all this meddling with the fans’ minds: this effusive invitation to play along a key to “Rouge” whose bite is as infectious as a werewolf’s one. It’s impossible to not fall under the album’s spell – it’s fabulous.