This album drops next Monday, so today seems as good a day as any to review it… It leaked a while back now, so I’ve had plenty of time to digest it properly, and have come to the conclusion that it’s one of the finest debut albums I’ve heard in a while.
I expected to be impressed by a band that made the BBC’s Sound of 2010 longlist (along with acts like Delphic, Ellie Goulding and The Drums), but this release is very polished, with some clever song-writing and plenty to get your proverbial teeth into.
Jon’s Rating: 81%
The album maintains a very solid pace throughout and moves between songs quickly – only 1 lasts more than three and a half minutes. As befits this kind of song-writing, the songs are very catchy and upbeat. In terms of sound, think a combination of Bloc Party, Foals and Death Cab, with a poppier vibe.
Track 1: Cigarettes in the Theatre | A song that builds slowly, but in doing so really sets the tone for the album. The kind of guitar work fans of Foals will enjoy coupled with almost twee vocals but without sounding mismatched.
Track 2: Come Back Home | For some reason this track makes me think of driving down rainy roads, but not in a bad way. Pretty formulaic indie-pop at its heart, but the wailing guitar chords and pounding drumbeat will slowly break their way through your eardrums to your unsuspecting brain. Hardly outstanding, but the louder you play it the better it sounds.
Track 3: Do You Want it All? | Injects a change of pace to the record. The chorus features layered, repeated vocals that work nicely, although lyrically perhaps more could be achieved. In context, it sounds fine but it’s not going to become a hit in its own right.
Track 4: This is the Life | More of the same here, although this song seems to me like it could bring the house down live, thanks to its clap-along beat and singalong chorus. I’ll flag it now as a possible festival anthem this summer.
Track 5: Something Good Can Work | It’s not hard to work out why the band released this as a single – quickfire vocals and a floaty pop vibe make it very radio-friendly and it showcases the band’s talents perfectly. Again, teeters on the brink of tweeness but never plunges over the edge.
Track 6: I Can Talk | This is where Bloc Party’s influence can be heard most clearly in the guitar work, but the vocals are very “Death Cabby”. A nice fusion that makes me hungry for a collaboration between Bloc Party and Ben Gibbard! Once more, the song crashes on at a frenetic pace.
Track 7: Undercover Martyn | The band’s third single, this track is initially downtempo, but quickly builds towards the by-now-familiar formula of pounding drums and melodic guitar-squeal. Straying towards Maps and Atlases territory here. The final cascade towards an abrupt end is very effective.
Track 8: What You Know | Took a few listens to win me over, but now I feel it’s one of the best songs on the album. Not pushing any envelopes, but more than good enough to leave you with a grin on your face. The percussion work on this track leaves nothing to be desired.
Track 9: Eat That Up, It’s Good For You | My favourite track on this release, the vocal parts melt into each other beautifully and the almost glitchy sound doesn’t even start to intrude on them, merely injecting a little pace at the right points, finally hammering out a thunderous crescendo before the song fades.
Track 10: You’re Not Stubborn | A catchy chorus is the only real high point here, but it’s a decent last track all the same. Once more the percussion element shines through and reveals itself as the engine behind the music.
In summary, an extremely enjoyable debut from the trio, and I look forward to catching them live at least once or twice this year.
Pick of the bunch, Eat That Up, It’s Good For You, on Youtube.