Belfast-born singer-songwriter Iain Archer has an Ivor
Novello award, dontchaknow? Admittedly, it was for his part in writing
Snow Patrol's planet straddling behemoth Final Straw, but
it's nice to have on your mantelpiece, isn't it? It's a measure of his
musical ambition that he didn't settle for a life shuffling about
behind Gary Lightbody in an enormodrome arena, and has gone back to
releasing solo records, the fourth of which, Magnetic North drops
later this month.
Preceding it is single, When It Kicks In, a frantic, spunky little
number about terrorism in Northern Ireland. Inspired by a bombing just
around the corner from his teenage band practice, Archer manages to
quickly convey the terror, confusion and sheer rage of the moment in
three and half perfectly worked minutes. Recalling, inevitably, Snow
Patrol's rockier moments (Hands Open, and Starfighter Pilot) and with
more than a hint of Graham Coxon, there is little
groundbreaking here, but there is certainly enough to prove why Snow
Patrol may be the eventual losers in their separation.
Woo-hooing backing vocals, and epic, ringing guitars could almost
make When it Kicks In Match-of-the-Day-theme-tune-fodder, but lyrics
like "there's a dark plume of smoke coming from the hospital carpark"
and "armies on the main street, firing plastic bullets," are simple,
but effective reminders of the visceral stupidity of the troubles in
Ireland. It might not get him another Novello just yet, but if Iain
Archer keeps on like this, he may just need to clear another space on