To put this review in context, I first saw Bones playing back in December 2014.
It was one of their first gigs and they were supporting a band that came and went like a mayfly, but Bones left a lasting impression, with Rosie Bones’ upfront performance and Carmen Vandenberg’s incredible guitar licks. I saw them a lot over the ensuing couple of years, sharing stages around London with other bands I knew. Then they disappeared from the live scene.
Rosie and Carmen had teamed up with British guitar legend Jeff Beck to write and record his new album Loud Hailer, which came out in 2016, which they followed up with a worldwide promotional tour with Beck. To my ears that album was a Bones album with Beck on guitar as Rosie’s presence was so pronounced. Then in March 2017 Bones did a farewell gig in Camden for fans and friends, and they decamped to the US to try and make it on their own merits out there.
Over the years they released a few singles that captured the raw nature of their live shows and songs that the fans were familiar with, but the promise of an album was always there because they had a raft of great tunes from the outset. Now that album is out, and I have to say it is not what I was expecting. I thought it would continue in the same vein as their work with Jeff Beck, with Carmen’s sweet blues-rock guitar playing counterpoint to Rosie’s husky vocals and astute lyrics. The only track that fulfils that criteria is the closing track, ‘Girls Can’t Play Guitar’, which was always a very popular part of their early gigs, with Carmen in full shred mode and disproving the song title’s premise.
Track three, ‘Pretty Waste’ is another of their older songs and apart from some extra production is still familiar. However, opening track ‘Beautiful is Boring’ is almost unrecognisable with its heavy production, taking it much more into the realms of a club song. Apart from ‘Creature’ and a cover version of Bowie’s ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, the rest of the songs sounded like new ones.
Like the aforementioned Bowie, it’s great to see a band evolve and head in unexpected directions. At it’s core this is still the Bones I loved from the outset, but a more mature sound that is filled with surprises and just as beautiful is boring, so is the predictable.
Bones UK’s debut album is out now on Sumerian Records.