The Rolling Stones have titled their upcoming compilation album GRRR!, so it’s appropriate that the first track released to promote the album, their first new song in more than six years, roars with anger. Just as on their protest song from their last album, “Sweet Neo Con,” Jagger catalogues the latest problems of the day, from “treasure lost in an overseas war” to “fracking deep for oil [when] there’s nothing in the sump.”
But don’t let the verses fool you: Lyrically, “Doom and Gloom” is more of an apathetic update to “Gimme Shelter.” Just as in that song, escape from all those wordly troubles is just a kiss away—or, in this case, only as far as the dance floor. Singing about escaping war and injustice by (as another line has it) putting your feet up on the couch and locking the doors might not be the most rock and roll gesture, but it befits a band that’s been at it for half a century. And, as they whould know, “Baby won’t you dance with me” has long been a more reliable rock chorus than “How come you’re so wrong / My sweet neocon.”
Musically, for a group marking its 50th anniversary, the Stones sound remarkably full of life. Keith Richards’ and Ronnie Wood’s dueling guitars sound at once jagged and tight, and veteran producer Don Was even fits one of them with a guitar effect straight out of Radiohead (around 0:27 and 2:38 here). But the real standout is the rhythm track: Producer Was and drummer Charlie Watts bang on just about everything they have, doubling up with both hand claps and cow bell.
The Stones have been easy to tune out for years now, but “Doom and Gloom” sounds both old and new—and delightfully so. Their next single is called “One More Shot,” and with “Doom and Gloom” they’ve earned it.