(Wall of Sound Records)
Like The Fratellis last year, Reverend And The Makers sparked a wildfire of hype over this debut album months ago. It doesn’t take much brain-wracking to reason why: friendly with Sheffield peers the Arctic Monkeys; purveyors of similarly candid dancefloor indie; and in Jon McClure, a bandleader cocksure and media-savvy enough to accept the title ‘Reverend’.
Three tracks into The State of Things, it’s all going to plan. Kasabian and Primal Scream producer Jagz Kooner lays out a familiar synthetic backdrop over which McClure rams home his vision of a Cool Britannia gone sour with all the swagger of a young Ian Brown. The Machine is an effective dissection of the pressures to conform to the 9 to 5 grind, with the repeated refrain, “don’t forget you can get off the conveyor”. There’s no chance to pause for breath before the ubiquitous single Heavyweight Champion of the World cranks up. The words are far from profound, but they flow seamlessly into that big, On-the-Waterfront-referencing chorus.
But the sense of triumph soon dissipates as it becomes clear that McClure isn’t the John Cooper Clarke punk poet he’d like us to believe; instead he dishes out uninspired, sub-Skinner vignettes of twenty-something normality – all illicit pregnancies, STDs and stifling relationships. This is painfully true of the token ‘slow one’, the shockingly-titled Sex With the Ex. Musically, its languid guitar arpeggio is pleasant enough, but the lyrics are unabashedly schoolboy: “Although you left him bitter, he still fancies you/Although he’s been around a bit since, nobody does it like you do”. Elsewhere, current single He Said He Loved Me – with its female chav cameo – is just crass and annoying, while 18-30, an unapologetic homage to the eponymous package holiday, is simply unforgivable.
Granted, Reverend And The Makers are more relevant than most of the self-avowedly ‘oop-Nawth’ bands out there, but this is no work of ecclesiastical genius.
Released 17 September