Pathos. It’s not just a mythical Greek warrior, it’s what makes Think Before You Speak far, far better than you might initially think. Certainly far better than that godawful name would suggest.
Sure, the whole book vs. cover debate has gone a long way, and yes, we all know that really fine things come in crap packaging, but come on. Good Shoes? Good. Fucking. Shoes? There really hasn’t been a worse monikering since Mr Hunt decided that his new son was a Mike. Yes, definitely a Mike.
But aside from that, and beneath all the Libertines/Maxïmo Park/Bloc Party/Rakes post-pre-new-no-punk-wave stylings, there exists a band in pain. A band who, maybe deliberately, maybe accidentally, expose a soft underbelly of emotion and in doing so, become a whole lot better.
Forget the first couple of inconsequential tracks and head straight for Morden. It’s suburban hell, where the guitars jangle furiously and, upon examining the KFCs and Superdrugs which make up the high street of his nightmares, enough to cause Rhys Jones to drawl: “Is this everything you need for a cultured city / or is this everything you need to promote burglary…”, in a manner bitterly witty enough to get a thousand Morrissey fans pricking up their gladioli.
They make their misery catchy, and we haven’t had a band who do that this well for an eternity. True, the lyrical angst could run the risk of delving beyond smart into art-school wet-dreams, but it’s that sour flavour of teenage disappointment that keeps the taste on your palate on the right side of charming.
So Never Meant To Hurt You plays out like The Futureheads auditioning for a part on Skins, Sophia is a sparkling diamond of shunned guitar-pop and Small Town Girl is the most beautifully bitter song you’ll hear on the indie dancefloor until Andy Nicholson can nail that solo career.
No, Think Before You Speak doesn’t tear up any trees in terms of originality and yes, it could really have done with jettisoning a couple of its tracks along the way, but basically it’s really rather good. The reason why it works as well as it does is simple: Good Shoes don’t shy away from showing the world their souls.