So This Is Great Britain?
This starts with a bang and goes out with a massive fireworks display. It gets a little wet in the middle though and the spark seems to go out somewhat. It's a very promising debut, with some really amazing standout tracks, let down somewhat by a few songs in the middle that lack the vitality and earnestness of the first three and the last two.
It doesn't help that the first song, 'So This Is Great Britain?' sets you up for what you think will be a damning indictment of modern Britain, which never fully materialises. It also doesn't help matters that the second track 'Generator' is one of the best singles released in the last couple of years. 'Generator' is everything you want from an indie-rock song. Bouncy, hopelessly positive and endlessly energetic, as if the chorus could go on forever 'I can get a record player, and a generator, generate the music that makes you feel better'. The third track, 'Dancefloor' is another great single about losing your friends whilst on a night out, encompassing the oft-maligned idea of going out and not actually having all that great a time. From there, however, the album seems to lose its way a little.
That's not to say the tracks themselves are inherently bad, and many contain great lyrics, but they merge into a slightly soggy mess, with little distinguishing them from each other. Rather than the critique of modern Britain, it turns into another 'indie-band-singing-about-girls-on-a-night-out'. Maybe this is simply because the middle of the album does not quite achieve the high standards set out so fiercely in the opening three tracks. That's not to say there aren't some great lyrics and decent tunes, but these songs (apart from the slower 'Malcontented One') are overshadowed by the albums closing statements of intent.
The penultimate track 'Nothing For The Kids' is a rigorous tirade against politicians, footballers and the media. There is some hope in the ending where the chant turns from 'there's nothing for the kids to do today', to 'there's plenty for the kids to do today', echoing the earlier statement from 'Generator' of: 'May I remind you that you don't live in poverty, You've got your youth, and a roof over your head'.
The final track 'Fuck Ups' contains my favourite lyrics: 'look here come another man with a face longer than Bin-Laden's, he has drank so much alcohol he can no longer get a hard-on, not that he'll ever get the chance to use it, women are intelligent he is stupid, lost and lonely he will remain, and no amount of alcohol will wash his blues away'.
This album is a strange hybrid of one truly great song, five or six good songs, and five or six average songs. It's slightly disappointing that so much potential is not fully realised on this record. All in all the future looks rosy for these bleak troubadours.