Sunday, 25 September 2011


Despite having the whole history of recorded music at my fingertips there are moments when I don’t know what to listen to. Those moments are inevitably filled by sticking on The Rifles 2006 debut No Love Lost. Not because it’s the best album ever made but its snappy bursts of mid-period Jam wears its heart on its sleeve, gets the head nodding and invites an exaggerated cockney sing-along whilst doing the washing up or pottering around the flat. ‘Andsome. The follow-up Great Escape didn’t quite match that standard but it’s still a decent album, strong on melodies and hooks, and now we come to Freedom Run.

On first play I was so bored it was a feat of endurance to last the course. For something so innocuous it was riling me. I’ve never heard a Snow Patrol album but this trudge through mediocrity is exactly how I imagine one; a stodgy production cloaking a lack of ideas. In the interests of fairness and loyalty I’ve played it another three times. That’s three hours of my life gone. The “Shout to the Top” style strings on the single “Tangled Up In Love” raise it an inch above the others and “Love Is A Key” (terrible title) will translate well in a live setting, but that's all and not good news for a band who’ve built their live shows around a geezerish, beer chucking audience. I’m not suggesting success is measured by the amount of wasted Stella but they’ll be plenty of uncomfortable periods at gigs now when punters are desperate to jump about to oldies rather than stand around arms folded.

The artwork is a giveaway: all moody photographs of mountains and desert highways, which fits the sense of nothingness these tracks evoke but The Rifles aren’t at home driving through Death Valley; their natural habitat is in Walthamstow pubs telling their mates about the latest argument with the girlfriend or their shitty day at work or how West Ham got beat again. To pretend otherwise fools no one and frankly makes them look a bit desperate.

There’s nothing strong enough on Freedom Run to give them the breakthrough hit and win them a legion of new fans; but there’s plenty weak enough to lose them a lot. They could shortly find they do have freedom, only not the kind they were searching for.

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