History In Reverse (K/Sonic Unyon)
The Blackouts come with all the right tools for post-garage-rock success – swampy guitars, grumbly bass rumbles and a singer whose voice wavers somewhere between a Peter Murphy howl and a pinched John Lydon warble – but there’s something decidedly unconvincing about their sub-Cramps goth-punk. History In Reverse, ostensibly a compilation of early EPs and singles, never comes close to equaling the greasy lo-fi thrills of the band’s influences. The band opts instead for a mannered impression of mayhem and sleaze that doesn’t feel the least bit dirty or dangerous. The doomy guitar intro to “Happy Hunting Ground” promises spooky thrills, but The Blackouts seem incapable of delivering on their ghoulish potential. “Exchange Of Goods” is about as close to the fringes as this one gets, with its distorted sax bleats providing a modicum of edge, while the snarling, squawking guitars of “Chipped Beef” start to get with the program. Unfortunately, over the course of an hour, this isn’t enough. All told, a disappointment.