A small recurring theme here these past few weeks has been the work of John ‘Speedo’ Reis, with the release of Rocket From The Crypt’s posthumous live album, “RIP” and the appearance of a new band called The Night Marchers on Myspace. Now, the Night Marchers album has arrived, and I reckon it may be the poppiest thing Reis has ever been involved with.

A small recurring theme here these past few weeks has been the work of John ‘Speedo’ Reis, with the release of Rocket From The Crypt’s posthumous live album, “RIP” and the appearance of a new band called The Night Marchers on Myspace. Now, the Night Marchers album has arrived, and I reckon it may be the poppiest thing Reis has ever been involved with.

For fans of his gnarlier last band, Hot Snakes, I guess that may sound a little disappointing. But The Night Marchers are basically Hot Snakes minus frontman Rick Froberg, so their juddering, rumbustious energy is still there on “See You In Magic”, just deployed in the service of more immediately accessible, less artpunkish tunes.

This is very much Reis’ project: it’s his voice and the clean attack of his guitar right upfront throughout, from the chundering, gleefully malicious psychobilly of “Closed For Inventory” onwards. One new twist on his schtick this time is a bonier kind of rock’n’roll, akin to the stuff Reis has produced for his protégé Dan Sartain. The likes of “Open Your Legs” and “Branded”, all rattling train rhythms, cardboard box drums and crisp Sun Studios ambience, are testimony to this.

Another departure is an occasional mellowness: “You Got Nerve” is a terribly mature, startlingly restrained song without, as far as I can remember, an obvious precedent in Reis’ capacious back catalogue. There’s a sense here that, this time, Reis has decided to strip back the heavy throb a little, the better to reveal his vivid songwriting gifts, to privilege his vague affinities with Elvis Costello. “Panther In Crime” reminds me, a little, of Bruce Springsteen as well as Costello – in the same way that Rocket’s “Lipstick” did, if memory serves.

The pre-punk reference points keep coming. “And I Keep Holding On”, has a looming clangorousness that, initially, calls to mind “Paint It Black”, if never sounding much like The Rolling Stones. “Jump In The Fire”, meanwhile, begins with a fulsome jangle in the best Byrds tradition – not something I’d ever expect to hear on a record involving Reis.

The thing is, Reis incorporates this kind of rock classicism into his routine with the easy, unflinching confidence that has always made all his bands so appealing. And a bunch of the songs on “See You In Magic” – “Total Bloodbath”, “In Dead Sleep (I Snore ZZZZ)”, “I Wanna Deadbeat You” – are right up there with his best; vital, dynamic, rumbustious rock’n’roll.

And God, I bet they’re amazing live.