Bought by Joel for Simon
When Simon asked if I’d like to do a 1p album swap, one band sprang to mind immediately. Back in December, Simon compiled a list of 2013’s best sub-two minute songs, and I suggested that he include Score, a short ‘n’ squelchy number from the Young Knives’ rather scary fourth album, Sick Octave.
The Young Knives are a band who have been with me for a while now. My first exposure to their delightful blend of anger and Englishness came when they supported The Rakes in 2006, and since then, I’ve seen them live on more occasions than any other artist. I caught them at a short-lived festival called Cardiff Calling (a.k.a. Get Loaded in the Park, a name that was presumably changed when someone saw it and went, “heh, like with drugs”); I saw them at Reading ‘07, where they previewed some of the songs that would later appear on Superabundance; more recently, I witnessed a rather more confrontational Young Knives set in Clwb Ifor Bach. They played Sick Octave in its strange, experimental entirety while we enjoyed some black and white footage of nude people.
Now, Voices of Animals and Men was the first proper Young Knives album, and it’s a very different beast to Sick Octave. Just because Simon put Score on his list doesn’t mean that he’ll enjoy this record. Still, I’m curious to see what he makes of it; I still think it’s a very good album, and while my hip, Libertines-loving friends were all rather bemused by songs like She’s Attracted To ("You were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad!") and Weekends and Bleak Days ("Hot summer, what a bummer") back in ‘06, I’ve always enjoyed this album’s angular riffs and its various expressions of boredom and frustration. Some of these songs are very dark indeed, not least the small-town existentialism of Loughborough Suicideand the post-death musings of Mystic Energy.
I have to admit I was in two minds when the Young Knives CD dropped through my door. I’d only heard two of their songs previously, one of these was Score, a great song that Joel had previously recommended for a sub-two minute playlist I put together last year. The other was Hot Summer which I’d seen as a bit of an irritating novelty song since I’d heard it about eight years ago. Based on these past experiences part of me was excited and the other part of me was adamant I just wouldn’t like the album.
I’ve also always thought that the Young Knives were just a bit wet, about as rock n roll as Scouting for Girls (I have to admit even they have a couple of songs which are quite catchy though). David Mitchell, as much as I love him, wouldn’t look out of place in their line-up. They obviously just weren’t cool enough for me at the time (or more likely it was just me being a twat!).
And that’s the beauty of the 1p Album Club. It’s about driving reappraisal of albums you didn’t think you’d like at the time, it’s about discovering hidden gems and it’s about putting your prejudice of a band’s image to one side and just enjoying their music. By doing that it also proves that one song doesn’t make an album cause, do you know what? I fucking love this album!
I also think I finally understand what all the fuss has been about over the years - the Mercury Prize nominations, the critically acclaimed albums etc. Really it’s me who has been a bit pants for not getting involved sooner…
Anyway, onto the album. It kicks off with the excellent Part Timer before the momentum continues into the brilliant past single The Decision.
Then comes the moment of truth - Hot Summer. To be honest it’s better than I remember it was, however, I still think it’s the weakest song of the album. The lead singer does his best PiL era John Lydon impression throughout most of it but it’s not bad enough to be skippable and fits very nicely where it is. Still, I’m surprised they chose it as a single when there are so many other stronger songs on the album.
Moving on and the album just gets better and better, without another John Lydon impression in sight. In the Pink bounces along nicely whilst Tailors proves they are not just a one pace band and that they can write softer songs. The only downside is that there aren’t more of these scattered throughout the album. Then towards the end of the album ‘Loughborough Suicide’ provides the quirkiest and catchiest song about suicide that you’re ever likely to hear.
So, what initially was a slight feeling of disappointment has now turned into an album that I will revisit time and time again. Thanks again to Joel for buying this for me, I will definitely be discovering some more of their back catalogue after this.
Loughborough Suicide for its spoken word / catchy chorus crossover that (apart from my daughter’s ‘Frozen’ soundtrack) is my current earworm