The Young Knives
The Voices of Animals & Men
Every now and then, a band comes along that are quintessentially British, right to their very core. The Kinks and more recently, The Libertines being the best examples. But now, here come The Young Knives, as British as knotted hankies and socks with sandals, with names like Henry Dartnall, Oliver Askew, and House of Lords (yes, really), singing songs about village tailors and pulling sickies.
The band hail from the small town of Ashby-de-la-zouch, which is officially the central point of England, you couldn't get further away from the coast if you tried, and this very literal middle England tone is all over their debut album. Pop-punk singalong track 'Weekends and Bleakdays' documents a yearning to escape from the drudgery of work, to the seaside for the day.
Elsewhere, 'Decision' catches Henry in a rare moment of confidence, where he boasts about being our 'supreme monarch', and manages to shoehorn in references to the New Forest, and people wearing their Sunday Best.
They're at their best, though, when paranoia sets in, and you can almost hear the beads of sweat forming on their furrowed, bespectacled brows, 'Here Comes the Rumour Mill' is pure brilliance, sounding like the inside of a deluded John Prescott's head, 'THEY KEEP ON LYING LIKE NO-ONE REALLY MATTERS!' squawks Henry Dartnall, leaving you uncertain of exactly who 'they' are, but fairly certain that he doesn't really know either.
While they do the sharp pop-punk thing very well, this is a more varied LP that you'd imagine. 'Tailors' is an impossibly twee piece of woodsy folk, complete with strange, proggy synths, whereas 'Coastguard' is a looming atmospheric rocker, showing they're more versatile than we have given them credit for.
Despite this being an LP with some inspired moments, there are some that grate and bore, particularly the teeth-grindingly repetitive 'In the Pink', but these are rather minor quibbles on an album filled with English pop gems, by a band who are giving hope to the nerdy and speccy alike. It's time for the messy haired boys with skinny jeans to move aside, the geeks are back.