The First are a young Cambridgeshire quintet about whom a lot of good things have been written. “Take Courage”, their sophomore album has had sections of the rock press hailing them as yet more proof of the rude health of British rock. I just don’t get it. If this is what passes for healthy in rock then give me Lemmy‘s liver any time.
It starts okay with second cut ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, sounding like a hybrid of Cancer Bats and Blink 182. Vocalist Ben Salter adding some throaty angst to the yearning pop punk celebration of going back to your roots. And they repeat the trick on ‘Love Regret Forgive Forget’ which form the only two tunes I’d care to ever hear again.’Tonight Tonight’ adds piano for a Something Corporate vibe and is only remarkable for at least not sounding like the rest of the album. Not better, just a relief to briefly escape the stroppy teenage rock.
So what’s my beef? Well, they pull of the unenviable trick of vaguely sounding like loads of bands I don’t like without ever solidifying into an easy reference point at which to throw my darts of scorn.
Certainly that whiny West Coast mallrat vocal style is present throughout and that is guaranteed to bring bile to my lips every time. I can’t get past that, but even if I could I still find every move The First make to be predictable and safe. It rocks like a xerox machine spilling out 2D copies of actual rock music. All you’ll get here is a papercut, not your head bitten off.
‘Start Again’ actually sounds like a boyband attempting to go metal it is so toothless! I hear it and scratch my head in bewilderment – who forms a rock n roll band to sound this tame? I just don’t believe in them. This is product. This is a career. Or this is a hobby till the real job comes along.
This is primetime TV’s version of alternative – all hair gel and tight jeans. I’m sorry, The First may be very genuine about what they’re doing, but it just doesn’t fucking sound like it to this grumpy old man.