Brant Bjork – Mankind Woman

Along with his Kyuss bandmates, Brant Bjork helped create and define Desert Rock. And, across a dozen more solo albums, he has stayed largely in the comfy confines of hazy, laid back stonerisms. Mankind Woman (Heavy Psych Sounds/RidingEasy), the man’s latest effort, feels like a man happy to jam whatever he’s fancies and put it out there.

Bjork’s entire solo career has rarely strayed from the established blueprint; sun-baked, retro-styled rock. His latest record touches upon the usual references — Yawning Man, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin – but feels like even more of a nostalgia trip than his previous work.

Opener ‘Chocolatize’ is the most memorable thing on here; its catchy hook and ridiculous refrain stick in the ear long after the record is finished. Everything else is pleasant but passes the listener by once the record moves on. ‘Somebody’ is a smooth as silk Soul number, while closing track ‘Nation of Indica’ is a standout; it’s spacy, psychedelic jams is the closest the album comes to some genuine trippy Stoner Rock.

Compared to some of Bjork’s recent solo output, though, Mankind Woman doesn’t really stand up; 2014’s Black Power Flower and Tao of the Devil (both Napalm) combined his penchant for the laid back with some hefty riffs. And while it is perfectly listenable and does makes a nice throwback to old greats, there’s nothing that improves on the what came before.

‘Brand New Old Times’ would have been a more fitting title for the album, but the song itself is a smooth helping of almost sixties-style Pop Rock. ‘Lazy Wizards’ has a languid swagger with hints of Zeppelin. ‘Pisces’ has a bluesy stomp strongly hinting Hendrix and Cream. They’re all decent enough, but they’re not up there in the pantheon.

This is probably Bjork’s least heavy work in over a decade, but that’s no bad thing. There’s hardly a duff note on here, and it does feel like an authentic throwback. However, there’s little that makes or leaves a lasting impression.