Having first emerged in 2002, fans have endured an arduous wait for a full-length record. Relentless touring and occasional EPs kept the fires burning, and now Voices of Animals and Men sparks the long playing arrival of Young Knives, a band about whom there is something instantly likeable.
Without doubt, this post-70s art rock has been well covered of late, but none of the other pretenders had a bassist called House of Lords. What makes this Oxford three-piece likely superstars is their ability to infuse their music with a self-effacing, British melancholy. Comic lyrics, brash punk and brilliant melodies install a wicked feel-good factor, making this a work that is likely to infect the population en masse.
Part Timer is the veritable kick-start, crashing headlong into a frantically-paced punk riff. Vocalist Henry Dartnall wades in with his extremely effective shouted melodies, and the chorus of “part-time forever, under the weather” is one that instantly becomes ingrained. A momentary pause in which we hear the band discussing which bits to take out of the song, quickly endears the listener to a band that does not take themselves at all seriously. This sentiment flows into the slower-paced The Decision as Dartnall professes “I wore the blue and the green / it’s not the way to be seen / that decision was mine” – a line that will echo throughout the hearts and minds of geeky students the world over.
Influence spreads from students to the workingman with Weekends and Bleak Days. The lyrics tap into the national mindset of “hold on for weekends and weekdays of illness and pain” and with a double-headed vocal attack employed in the chorus of the effect is multiplied. Bassist House of Lords again lends his voice to following track In The Pink, only this time to create one of the sweetest harmonies of the LP. This diversity, combined with the common thread of taking a light-hearted approach to their work, which makes the album such an enjoyable listen.
Here Comes the Rumour Mill, is an infectious slice of disco-punk. With a touch of falsetto used in the chorus the comic edge is maintained in a light-heated attack on the media. Where many bands take their political edge far too seriously, Young Knives prefer to see the funny side, which is surely the more enjoyable outlook.
After the the halfway point, the LP launches into highlight track She’s Attracted To. Featuring what is surely one of the best ever opening lines: “Who are these people? They are too stupid to be your real parents!”. This tale of dealing with a girlfriend’s parents features further lyrical masterstrokes such as “He gave me a right talking to, he said I was a terrorist” and the culmination of “you were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad” is liable to be belted out at any of the band’s upcoming in-store shows.
In the midst of so much strife, Young Knives re-install the core values of enjoying a musical experience, and are fascinating in doing so. Witty, catchy and killingly observant, this is the point at which they finally cement how truly vital they are. Undoubtedly a must-have.