A criticism levelled at many current pop acts is a tendency to look overtheir shoulders, maybe two, three decades into the past. While this may bevalid it’s also true to say that many of these bands do it extremely well,and to their number can be added The Dead 60s.
The Liverpool quartet aresigned to the same label as The Coral, but that’s pretty much wherethe similarity ends. In fact the two bands are like chalk and cheese, theCoral’s more pastoral take on pop countered by the Dead 60s preoccupationwith the Specials and The Jam, boosted by various ghostlysound effects.
From the outset it’s clear they don’t intend to hang around, and indeedthe whole album seems to be over before it began. Whilst that’s great onthe big single – Riot Radio is an exercise in constriction – other trackssuffer from being cut off too early, among them Nationwide and A DifferentAge, which doesn’t even make two minutes.
What The Dead 60s do possess in abundance is a good strong melody ineach song, usually complete with sound effects, good humour and a barrageof guitars in any bridge passage that cares to use them. And in MattMcManamon they have a characterful singer who sounds not unlike IanMcCulloch, with a slightly nasal tone.
The refreshingly basic, no frills approach works well on GhostfacedKiller, which would be even more effective if it wasn’t a devotional to theSpecials Ghost Town. Listening to this I was given the picture of aghoulish vehicle hurtling through the night, with the guitar effectssuitably macabre. The 60s make use of this technique once too oftenunfortunately, despite its effectiveness.
The album’s brevity and abundance of tunes are a mostly winningcombination however, and when you add the wistfulness of a track like WeGet Low, where Matt sings, “I was looking back for home”, there’s a realfeeling of getting beneath the surface.
The grubby bassline of Train ToNowhere presents a gentler side to the band, Charlie Turner‘s bassrevealing itself as a crucial part of their make-up. So it proves in thedubby excursions the band make, and in the funny reference to Batman thatprovides the main melodic material for Loaded Gun. Bass is the place onceagain for Soul Survivor, one of the album’s choice tracks.
To sum up, an act worth checking out for some energetic, high spiritedpop. The ’60s may be dead, but as this record proves, the ’70s and ’80s areanything but.