Norman Cook founded Southern Fried Records seventeen years ago. The largely electronic-based output from the label has seen some of the most forward thinking electro of the past few years, including Cook himself, electro-funk pioneer Kurtis Mantronik, club legends Armand Van Helden and Crookers, and since 2008, Oldham's very own The Whip. Their second album, Wired Together, recruits Jagz Kooner as producer, the man probably best known for his work with Primal Scream and the Manic Street Preachers, not to mention his side-project Sabres Of Paradise, which draws influence from acid house and dub. So from the word go the band have had to compete with some competition from within its own label and a moderately high standard set by their first effort.
Whilst the band did achieve some success with their last release, 2008's X Marks Destination, particularly with the single 'Trash', they have remained largely hidden from the limelight that captured so many of the nu-rave starlets of the late 00's. Unlike the synth-driven contemporaries such as New Young Pony Club or CSS which oozed Radio One appeal, The Whip have remained in a similar state of ambiguity since they first broke onto the scene. This may not necessarily be a bad thing at first glance though, as it has given the band time to escape the dreaded Nu-Rave tag and re-emerge to the music scene free from career threatening label (think Hadouken!).
Throughout the album you can easily hear the influence of New Order and the Hacienda sound of Madchester, especially within the bass lines that would make Peter Hook proud. The bass line on 'Movement' is particularly impressive and despite the lacklustre introduction, the song soon takes off into an elevated disco anthem. Think a down tempo 'Sister Saviour'. The bass and drum accompaniment of Nathan Sudders and Fiona Daniel is akin to the Hook/Morris combination that served as the backbone of New Order and Joy Division. The thumping backbeat is best heard on opening track 'Keep or Delete' or 'Master of Ceremonies', both of which are first-rate examples of disco-infused indie that would make Klaxons jealous. Kooner's beats do nothing to detract credit from these songs, nor does front man Bruce Carter's guitar or vocals.
Yet Wired Together really does seem to be missing something that the likes of The Rapture or the Klaxons had. Songs such as 'Secret Weapon' and 'Intensity' sound a little too cheesy to be taken seriously as proper electro-infused indie tracks, a fate which unfortunately bestowed Ford and Lopatin earlier in the year. Still finding a link in which dance beat and guitar riff go well together can be a very difficult thing to achieve and on the whole the band, and producer, do well to find this link. Carter's vocals too can seem a little grating and irritating to listen to for a whole album yet the band had stated in interviews that they hoped to make an album that was more vocally and lyrically driven, and kudos to them for having a damn good go at it even if it can serve as the downfall on a number of songs.
The album is far from the archetypal indie-dance album; the heady heights of the Rapture's Echoes or the Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future are far from met. Yet this is an otherwise impressive album from a band that would have no doubt had its cynics following the collapse of the (nu) wave of electro-indie bands that consumed the airwaves not too long ago. Following another round of extensive touring again I'm sure the band will be back again soon trying to impress.