An album of two halves: 8/10
After amassing the Rev Army troops with a fervour that Lord Kitchener would be proud of, Reverend and the Makers finally drop the album that they’ve been hyper-hyping for months. But is it all mouth and no trousers?
Everyone knows that 42 is the answer to life the universe and everything. Well some may think the answer is in fact 32 – the title of the eagerly awaited follow-up album from Sheffield’s most charismatic and exciting indie-rock band, Reverend and the Makers. Taking a leaf out of Adele’s book, Jon McClure too has named his album after his age. But there any similarity ends. A real album of two halves, the Reverend’s inherent musical influences and passions come over loud and clear.
Launching with the punchy, ethereal electronic soundscape of ‘Detonator’ the album kicks off with a bang, with quirky rhymes (calculator/spectator/agitator) to convey kinky thoughts and mucky intentions. This club-tastic earworm of a track screams ‘bring tha rave’, and you’d better obey. Next up, I Spy is an upbeat, dark-edged tune, sporting a tinge of Muse with a large helping of Dead or Alive. The line ‘What do you want from me?’ is delivered with a touch of menace, hinting that the protagonist isn’t as submissive as the words might suggest but is rather more dominant. The catchy chorus and sublimely hypnotic second vocal could easily mark this track out as a single release.
Moving into a bit of ska tribute zone, Devil’s Radio is definitely channeling ‘Miss Brown’ from the first album and is one to get the Rev Army bouncing. The baggy swagger of Nostalgia follows, with its apt title acknowledging the distinct sense of déjà vu in some of the tracks so far. Its USP however has to be lyrics featuring tamagotchis – or maybe their inclusion is well-timed marketing bid for the second coming of the 1990’s electronic pets later this year… Happy Song sadly had the opposite effect on me so it was a relief when the metaphorical whistle blew for half-time providing some breathing space.
One of the stand-out songs on the album is Different Trains. Wearing its ska DNA lightly, this track quickly builds into a storming, in-yer-face, bouncy vocal two-hander.
With more depth and more guts, this track showcases the creativity that Reverend and the Makers excel at when they’re not getting sidetracked. And just the opening bars of Time created a good feel – then I realised I’d heard it before – premiered in a small sweaty club in the middle of nowhere last summer. Although no longer entitled Keyboard Warrior, the keyboards still own this track. Along with dirty beats and great bass this track throws down a demand to party, and party we will.
With hints of The Machine, Old Enough (To Know Better) is an altogether different and darker beast. One of Reverend and the Makers’ trademark observational gems, painting a picture of a seedy existence where you can almost smell the heavy perfume over the stale fags and where dimly lit figures slip into the shadows. A ballsy tune, with a great hook, this track is one to look forward to at gigs.
Anyone familiar with his daily thoughts/rants/battles via Twitter may be taken aback by the complete change of gear that is the delicate, moving yet powerful heartfelt plea of Play Me, about saving a relationship that’s falling apart. A cathedral of sound encapsulating beautiful soaring string arrangements, this is a fabulous track, and don’t be surprised if this pops up as a cheeky Christmas single – you heard it here first. The altogether more introspective feel of this song invoked the memory of A French Kiss in the Chaos – the band’s criminally under-rated and misunderstood but outstanding second album.
First single from the album, The Only One, gives a nod to ‘Out of the Shadows’ with strong guitars and soaring chorus. But the lairy attitude, brilliant drums and Prodigy-esque assault on the senses make Your Girl THE track to put on repeat. I love the deep bass, echoing change of pace, the fade to zero, the thrashing ‘hell hath no fury’ sound. Without a doubt this will be amazing live, expect to see crowds going mental to it. Quite frankly it’s a mystery as to why this track was put out as a free taster as it has single written all over it – on vinyl it’ll need 8”, too massive for just the usual 7”. Your Girl is to 32 what Bassline is to @Reverend_Makers – a proper belter.
So after all the hot air, and the crazy ‘play in fans’ front room campervan promo tour’, does 32 deliver? The songs reflect the everyday life of ordinary people, with witty and perceptive observations crafted into sharp lyrics with even sharper tunes. The album is a lot like its raucous, confounding frontman: passionate, polarising, creative and unpredictable. Reverend and the Makers have set out their stall – and it’s choc full of bangers. 32? Yeah, I definitely would.
Words: Tee Gee /@MiddxMinxx ©TG.