Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares
It wasn’t all that long ago that poppy, blues-infused garage-rock blared forth from every 30 GB MP3 player in the country. Bands like The Hives, The Vines, and other “The” groups saturated the mainstream music landscape, all of them dutifully worshiping at the temple that The White Stripes and The Strokes built. Milwaukee’s The Delta Routine missed that first round of retro-revival, but it has no qualms about arriving to the party a decade too late. On its third full-length album, Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares, the band serves up 11 fat-free slices of hooky, slithery, and perfectly pitched tunes that wouldn’t be out of place in the early ’00s—or the ’70s that inspired those early ’00s. It’s an unabashedly enjoyable collection from one of Milwaukee’s most unabashedly populist bands.
Much of the credit goes to frontman Nick Amadeus, whose Liam Gallagher-esque vocals infuse Cigarettes & Caffeine with an agreeably snotty swagger. Opener “Waste Your Time” is a driving force of bar-band nature, while the chugging “Switchblade” offers up a fist-pumping, “Give ’em fire, give ’em hell” chorus. “Rachael St. Joe” finds the group hewing its closest to the scuffed-up grit of The White Stripes, and winning closer “People Like You” mixes things up with some unexpected glockenspiel. At its best, the album is good, sexy fun, though it does occasionally fall into a Fratellis pit of obnoxiousness. (A little bit of the title track’s insistent sing-along chorus goes a long way.) Those few moments aside, Cigarettes & Caffeine is a big step up from 2011’s More About You, and finds The Delta Routine up to its ears in songs so exceedingly well-crafted that it’s easy to ignore the time warp and simply enjoy the present.
(The Delta Routine celebrates the release of Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares Thursday, Oct. 11 at The Hotel Foster.)