Though you might not know it by looking at most of my reviews this year, 2012 was a pretty good year for music. I actually listened to a lot of new stuff on my own that was fantastic, even if the albums I’ve reviewed for ThisIsNotAScene were hit-or-miss. However, as I’m writing this review at the end of the year (though you’ll be reading this at the beginning of the new year), I’m happy to say that I’m closing out the year with one of the hits.
Club Smith are a four-piece indie rock/electro band from the UK. This is important because I feel like I can hear hints of Arctic Monkeys and Manic Street Preachers throughout their debut LP, “Appetite for Chivalry”. This isn’t to say that they are derivative, but rather that they come from a distinctly British pop-rock tradition.
This is a very good thing. When Arctic Monkeys first hit the scene, I loved them. I was a little late to the party for Manic Street Preachers, but “The Holy Bible” is a brilliant album. So if I’m saying that Club Smith sound like those guys, it’s an implicit recommendation. Musically, they’ve got this dance-rock thing doing on. I know they bill themselves as a rock/electro outfit, but I think it sounds much less electro and more dance-rock. Is that a thing?
There a few less-dancy songs, such as the opening track, ‘Mantra’, and ‘I didn’t want to show you that I’d lost faith’. However, these fit nicely amongst the faster songs not only as palate cleansers, but as great songs in their own right. In fact, the pacing of this album, switching to a quieter song at just the right time, is one of the strengths of this album.
The other main strength of this album is the lyrics. As I said, this is kind of a dance-rock album, so you’re not necessarily going to be listening to the lyrics closely. Club Smith seem to know this, though, so the choruses of many of the songs pack of lot of bang-per-word. On the second track, vocalist Sam Robson sings: “We’re all brothers, but you’re no friend of mine,” repeatedly, and on the final refrain on ‘Young Defeatists’, he sings: “Every time you think, Think we’re on the brink, Just about to sink, We prove you right, ’cause, We’re the young defeatists.”
All in all, Club Smith‘s “Appetite for Chivalry” is a great, well-written dance album that was the perfect way for me to close out 2012, and a great way for you to begin 2013.