The Loudest Engine is Aussie outfit Howling Bell's thirds outing. Recorded in the Nevada desert with one of The Killers, it's really not what you'd expect. There is a dark underlying presence as you'd expect of something recorded in the desert but a poptastic album full of indie anthems it ain't (as you would expect with the Killers) and I strongly suspect this could be in response to their last release and their change of labels.
Its received a mixed reception on initial release. Not as instantaneous and radio friendly as its predecessors. Juanita's voice is still one of intense beauty but the band shelve traditional song structures and ignore what expected of them to make the album they want to and when it comes off in their favour, it really works well and has to be applauded. There are echoes of their debut in Charlatan, Into The Sky and album highlight Faith.
When it doesn't however (in the Kate Bush sound-a-like Gold Suns, White Guns) it merely comes off sounding a little off focus. There are also a couple of awkward moments which become a little too personal like the paean to being on the road and trying to keep a relationship going 'Don't Run'. Good tune but with the pleas to the other half, you can't help feeling you really shouldn't be listening.
Overall as an album 'The Loudest Engine' works well. It takes a few listens to get into however those listeners that delve deeper will ultimately be rewarded.
It hasn't got the raw beauty or the edge of their self-titled debut but is streets ahead of their previous effort Radio Wars. Howling Bells are one of the most interesting bands in the world right now and should be cherished as such.