Hailing from not so glamorous Morden in South London, indie four piece Good Shoes have the kind of anti-image that’s become an image in and of itself. Scruffy hair, crumpled clothes, faces for radio, they’re a group of friends who formed a band to make songs people could sing along to. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it does mean their songs have to do all the talking. But on debut Think Before You Speak, they had plenty to say.
Based around the basic set up of drums, bass and guitar, their debut overflowed with witty, mildly depressing vignettes of life in suburban London and the perils of growing up bored. Nearly every track came with a chorus or melody as catchy as anything the Kaiser Chiefs ever came up with and, through constant touring, they managed to build up a loyal following. It’s a shame to report that those fans are going to be disappointed with this follow-up.
It’s not that they’ve gone away and changed their sound – guitar lines still snake around the tracks, the bass still rumbles and singer Rhys Jones’ limited range still wraps itself around tales of lost love and hopelessness. But on No Hope, No Future the tunes seem to have deserted them. It starts off well, with the brisk, punchy The Way My Heart Beats, which could easily have been on their debut. Unfortunately, the dreary Everything You Do plods into view next and the mood is deflated almost immediately.
Other tracks such as Our Loving Mother In A Pink Diamond and A Thousand Miles An Hour pick up the pace and trundle along nicely, but there’s nothing defining about them that you can really grab hold of. The whole album drifts by in just over 30 minutes and your attention is piqued on only a handful of occasions. Under Control is one of those brief moments, coming on like a Gossip track, complete with rumbling, funky bass and a crescendo of guitars that pepper the huge chorus. It’s a moment to rejoice on an album that just feels flaccid in comparison to the youthful debut.
They also slip too easily into clich�. I Know attempts to unravel the complexities of religion – “How can someone so intelligent believe something so ludicrous?” – but just makes Jones sound like a slightly wacky Big Issue salesman. Elsewhere, lines are spouted like meaningless slogans: “Everything you say always ends up turning out the same”; “Sometimes I think that it will never stop”; and on it goes. No Hope, No Future is a major disappointment for a band whose debut showed real promise. Let’s just hope that title isn’t somehow prophetic.