Alright Already (Double Trouble/Universal)
This is not new. Not even revived in a second generation new. It’s post-post if you like.
This is where the snappy, mildly jerky, New York ennui cool of turn of the century The Strokes bring angles, busy guitars and a little too much knowingness to a meeting in a downtown bar with a bunch of rhythm & blues-loving kids from the suburbs who have fewer affectations, a fondness for sweaty dancing and a collection of garage rock.
Add the fact that it’s a two-piece – how very noughties – and you can already begin writing the review-as-obituary, beginning with simulacrum (for the arty, ironic set) and ending with pale copy (for the less pretentious), with a side-order of mockery.
But wait a second. Sure, there are limitations to this album, such as the fact that at no point do you get a sense of discovery and, if you like your records sounding either big or heavily produced this sharp-toned, plain-speaking set will give you the irrits.
However, the single-names-only Sydney duo of Novak, on guitar and voice, and John-Henry, on drums, are both smarter than all this sounds and more fun than any mere copy cats.
From Where U Been, which opens the album with fuzzed guitars, cocky masculinity and husky vocals that actually puts Polish Club into a more Australian context (think the kind of classic Alberts Studio sound revived by Dallas Crane etc) Novak and John play short and sharp and bent on entertainment.
No song exceeds 3mins 40seconds, several are just under or just over 2mins; Watchuknow gives you urban surf music in tight trousers rather than boardies; Broke, the slower Able, and the slower still It If Was Me take you through the three stages of power soul balladry; and Come Party is a heart and party-starter, complete with bap-bap-ba-da backing vocals.
It’s fair to ask I think, if it’s ok to get off on the familiar soul in the garage moves – the Black Keys rode that horse for a while too, and the soon to visit Los Angelenos Vintage Trouble are masters of that and don’t get sneered at – then why not the none-more-Strokes moves such as Beat Up and Beeping?
Too soon? Well it’s nearly 20 years you know, that doesn’t even count as accelerated development.
Tis a pity then that the intentionally comic, drunken Irish pub feel of the album’s closing song, Red River Rock, offers a distorting note does make you think scratch wedding band and very second hand, when Alright Already has been better than that.
But hey, stop the album at the end of track 13, My Delight – aka, the one that reminds you of the first Kings Of Leon album - and restart the record. Party sorted.