Seldom can a debut album have been so anticipated. After several singles and well over 100 gigs in the past two and a half years including supports to Paul Weller and The Specials, this band of early twenty-year old lads from Watford have built a substantial fan base, so the time had come to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the big boys and release an album.
The first thing you notice is the striking front cover image of four young lads with short hair dressed really stylishly in turned up jeans, desert boots, loafers and Fred Perry shirts – not a beard in sight! Even before I heard it I knew what to expect musically and yes it did exactly what it said on the tin, but to a very high standard.
The obvious comparison is The Jam, there’s no escaping it whether musically, lyrically or in the way vocalist Billy Sullivan sings. However, they’re not the only comparison, maybe The Enemy, The Ordinary Boys or older school power-pop bands like The Vapors spring to mind. What does give their sound a different edge is the inclusion of a Hammond Organ throughout and the occasional use of brass. Most of the tracks are upbeat and lively ‘I’m Holdin On’ is the nearest track to punk on the album and is reminiscent of The Jam’s ‘Funeral Pyre’ with its passion and driving beat, but there are also moments of real surprise, ‘Serenade Part 2’ is a short cello led classical piece and the intro to ‘Spoke Too Soon’ sounds like it has been played on a Xylophone. Many of the songs are social commentaries dealing with life on the council estates and a lack of hope, all that’s missing is a love song.
Talking about saving the best to last, the closing number 4am is the album’s masterpiece starting slowly semi-acoustically and building with brass and a rousing chorus before bring it to a gentle conclusion.
For a debut album this is an extremely accomplished and impressive effort. If they can better it with their next album then it’ll be a masterpiece.
Expect this album to feature highly in many end of year polls.
I need leave the band some room for improvement so I give it 9/10.
The Spitfires – 4am