There’s no shortage of loveable Sheffield scamps with guitars and tousled hair setting their eyes on the charts these days, which means that it takes a special kind of northern lad to stand out from the crowd. Harrisons may well be those lads.
Comparisons with Arctic Monkeys are inevitable – blame the frenetic guitars and punk tempo for that – as is a Gangs of New Yorkshire tag (blame the Kaiser-style stomp on Wishing Well in particular) but they’re more than just copyists or bandwagon jumpers, mixing angular guitars, disco beats and blues riffs for an energetic 45 minutes.
Previous singles Blue Note, Wishing Well, Monday’s Arms and Dear Constance are all present and correct here, which could make you ask if there’s enough new stuff to make it worth the effort – are the other seven tracks anything more than filler? Luckily, the answer is yes: there’s plenty to recommend you to rush out and buy the album.
There’s Man Of The Hour, to start with, which has as catchy a hook (“You tell lies for all to see”) as any of the songs they’ve thrown at the charts. They can do bluesy rock complete with axe solos – Little Boy Lost and Sweet Crystal – and then hit you with the near-ballad Simmer Away. Take It To The Mattress is New Order if they’d ever been as young and cocksure as the Arctics. Listen sounds much more mature and accomplished than a song on a debut album has any right to – it’s the song which first tips this over the threshold from being a three star to a four star review. Medication Time is a good, stomping pop tune, as is album closer Come For Me.
The band is made up of former builders (who were at college two years ago – choose which side of the class war you want to sit on now) and, as you’d expect, they’ve made sure the foundations are solid and that what they build will endure. The bricks they’re laying include baggy, giving a danceability to many of the songs, while their lyrics have been constructed after careful listens to many a Smiths album (“But the problem lies/Behind their eyes/Their young minds/Filled with wicked lies”). They’re part Jam, part Kaiser Chiefs, part Happy Mondays, brimming with energy and infectious riffs.
No Fighting In The War Room is produced by Hugh Jones, who comes with Echo And The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes in his portfolio and the former in particular can be heard in places – as can other elements of dark electronica including Nick Cave, whose Red Right Hand they often cover live but sadly don’t include here.
In short, the album is great but you do wish these bands could learn to dress better. Honestly, don’t they have any decent shops or fashion police in Yorkshire?