On Turbo Fruits’ first two albums, the band made its mark with an invigorating brand of garage-punk built on the aggressive, riff-heavy songwriting of founder and front man Jonas Stein, aka Jo-Nasty. But with the addition of lead guitarist Kingsley Brock prior to recording their third album, 2012’s Butter, they began to expand their sonic horizons. Now, on their new release — No Control (Melvin/Thirty Tigers) — which dropped on Tuesday, they have broadened their sound even further, with the result being their strongest, most accessible record to date.
Longtime fans need not worry, however, that a more accessible album means the band has lost any of its edge — they haven’t. No Control contains 11 tracks of vital, inspired rock & roll. Producer Jeremy Ferguson, who helmed the group’s first two records, 2007’s eponymous debut and 2009’s Echo Kid, returns for nine of the tracks, which were recorded at his Battle Tapes Recording studio in East Nashville and engineered by Matt Legge. Patrick Carney of The Black Keys produced the album’s first single, “The Way I Want You,” as well as “No Reason To Stay,” at his studio, with Roger Moutenot engineering.
With the exception of the album-ender, “Big Brother,” No Control deals lyrically with romantic themes — betrayal, regret, apology, and unsuccessful reconciliation — drawing largely, but not wholly, upon a breakup Stein was going through as the songs were being written. “Big Brother” deals with a different kind of pain — the loss of his older brother a little more than a decade ago. Always an expressive vocalist, Stein takes it up a notch here. You can hear the wrenching emotion in his vocal parts throughout the record, but especially on the finalé when he sings, “Take my pain away, take my pain away, take my pain, I wish I could have you for one more day.”
Musically, the record spans a dynamic range that runs from the mid-tempo, Brit invasion-influenced groove of the opener, “Show Me Something Real,” to the breakneck neo-punk of “Favorite Girl,” with several stops in-between. From start to finish, bassist Dave Tits and drummer Matt Hearn lay down tight, muscular rhythms that set the stage for the group’s twin-guitar attack of Stein and Brock to showcase their chops, with the former hammering out distorted power chords over which the latter layers melodic fills and searing solos.
All in all, No Control is a record that gets better with each spin; it’s both a significant musical statement, and a sonic document of a young band growing up right before our ears.