AC/DC – PWRϟUP
Released: 13 November 2020
Brian Johnson // lead vocals
Angus Young // lead guitar
Stevie Young // rhythm guitar
Cliff Williams // bass
Phil Rudd // drums
It is fair to say 2020 has been a massive kick in the private parts for 11 straight months. Many of us have turned to comfort food whilst in lockdown and to be honest, the ripping run of great new music, some of it innovative, political or otherwise difficult to digest, has been a massive saving grace. So it seems fitting that as we approach 2021 we get a new AC/DC album – rock n roll’s greatest comfort food. For almost fifty years Angus Young has put on his school uniform, plugged in his guitar and strutted through studios and stages. We thought it would be over when Malcom died, and Brian seemingly abruptly retired due to hearing issues. Whilst the run with Axl Rose was equal parts strange and amazing (the deep cuts were killer), it didn’t feel like a victory lap. The album Rock or Bust was disappointing to say the least, following the arse kicking Black Ice. So Brian is back, and has managed to coax Cliff Williams out too, and Phil Rudd is back after his jail stint. So settle in, let’s throw on PWRϟUP together and go through it track by track.
A standard jam of an AC/DC song. Sharp chords on the verses, gang vocal “aahhhhs” on the chorus. Brian sounds bloody good. Solo is pretty fun. Really, it is nice to have them back and sounding like they have since Back in Black.
Sweet build up between the band and Angus in the intro. The tough guy lyrics are fine and totally suit the fanbase. Pretty unremarkable otherwise.
‘Shot in the Dark’
The first single and now we are rockin’. Catchy chorus that sits alongside their best radio fare and is instantly better than Rock or Bust’s first single: ‘Play Ball’. Great tempo for getting down too, with some sly humour in the lyrics.
‘Through the Mists of Time’
A bit slower and less explosive, but with a standard blues riff, apparently from the Malcolm archives. It’s a bit mythical but not spooky. At least it’s different from the first three songs, and really brings a cool vibe. Not innovative but different enough. Killer melody.
‘Kick You When You’re Down’
Brian and Angus kick this off (pun intended), and it’s a little more aggressive in tone. Angus gets a cool lick going in the chorus. Phil is playing the same beat every song so far. Like this one as an album track. Great chorus that would be sweet to hear live.
Good catchy chorus. Might have been a sleep spell otherwise.
This is more like it. They go the “whole lotta Rosie” style with Brian talking between the guitar riffs. He adopts a lower register as well, which suit the lyrics. It has more of an up tempo and the guitars really blast away. Demands pyro. Best song so far.
How many songs start with Cliff’s bass? This one! Really good rhythm work, slower but short with another good hook. The “oooo yeah” gang vocal got a chuckle. The spoken word is back briefly and is more menacing.
‘No Man’s Land’
Epic intro on this one. Settles into a standard blues jam. Does get repetitive quickly, and this is not a fast song. First time I checked the run time to see how long was left. Didn’t do it for me.
Phil begins with a solo (but don’t stress, it’s the same beat he always plays) while Angus gets the chunky riff rolling. This one is more classic, builds in the bridge to the big chorus. Would be a decent single and probably go pretty well live.
I swear I have heard this song before. Maybe because there’s half a dozen songs that already use either Money, Shot or Shoot in their title. This doesn’t stand out from those ones.
Oooh, I like this riff. It’s got a strut, and goes into a sick blues chords. Yeah, it’s a bit of a head nod and groove here. It’s meaty, and the chorus does the job. Needs cannons, but the gimmick was taken. The solo works. Good ending to the album. It won’t replace ‘For Those About to Rock’, but I would put devil’s horns up if they played it live.
The production is pretty immense, it sounds live, but not raw, and gives you stadium feels in headphones and in the car. With everything so familiar and on brand, even the album title and art work is hardly inventive, who needs a new AC/DC album? We do. It’s the comfort food we need and it’s going to get a lot of spins over summer. Will you go back to it in six months? You’ll probably put on Let There Be Rock, Highway to Hell or Back In Black instead. But for right now – PWRϟUP is a welcome comfort to our 2020 headspace.
AC/DC – PWRϟUP tracklisting
3. Shot In The Dark
4. Through the Mists of Time
5. Kick You When You’re Down
6. Witch’s Spell
7. Demon Fire
8. Wild Reputation
9. No Man’s Land
10. System Down
11. Money Shot
12. Code Red