With the original line-up back in place after bassist Robert Pyne and drummer Grant Marsh returned to the fold alongside Joel Stoker and Lucas Crowther, Chingford’s The Rifles will be hoping to break away from the band’s almost cult status to that of a more recognised household name.
Since their formation in 2004, three albums have seen the light of day – debut No Love Lost in 2006 introduced the quartet as mod (particularly The Jam) influenced portrayers of exciting lad rock. Whilst follow up Great Escape followed in the same fashion, 2011’s Freedom Run saw them evolving, moving towards more grandiose, orchestral pop in places as well as acid rock and psychedelia after the rhythm section was completely replaced for reported financial reasons, with Garda’s Lee Burgess and Kenton Shinn stepping in.
The changes disappointed some hardcore fans, but None The Wiser may just win them back again, and by utilising the PledgeMusic approach, perhaps the fans contributing financially to the release also played its part in resurrecting the early sound. Upbeat, punchy melodies are abundant once more as the band probably reflected on where their strengths lay and went full steam ahead in their previous direction. In fact, with the confident approach and comfort in their own identity shining through all over the new offering, it looks as if the only thing that caused any hesitation or doubt was the album title itself; apparently the name arose after a conversation about what it was going to be called, whereby they were still ‘none the wiser’ as to what it should be.
The first single from the album, Minute Mile, opens the collection in high tempo fashion, its incessant, persistent guitar riff leads into a catchy, feel good chorus sounding not too unlike The Strokes musically. The bouncy two minute, almost rockabilly second single Heebie Jeebies is over too quick – it’s a brilliant injection of pace and indie power pop that will send the band’s mosh pit followers into mayhem.
Go Lucky continues the momentum as The Jam influence pops up before All I Need represents another catchy, foot tapping track that’s hard not to like with its bouncy percussion, harmonica and uplifting guitaring. A descending three note guitar line, organ chords and tribal drums combine to produce the addictive highlight that is You Win Some; surely it won’t be too long before a TV drama such as Waterloo Road nabs the tune for its ready made reflective TV drama friendly lines like “yesterday is over and it won’t be back again”.
The jaunty vibe of the album continues with Catch Her In The Rye as the bouncy style of the song plants itself somewhere between the lad rock of Hard-Fi and the exuberance of The Kooks. The Hardest Place To Find Me benefits from some of the most melodic vocals on offer here, coupled with some upbeat drumming and energetic strumming whilst Shoot From The Lip recalls a slower paced, early Arctic Monkeys sound.
Penultimate track Electric Eccentric is another gloriously uplifting poppy guitar based track that begs to become a staple sing-a-long. Album closer Under And Over then rounds things off in typical fashion; the stop start nature of the song moves from slower sections to raucous, firebrand guitaring driven passages, guaranteeing that the track is odds on to become another live favourite – it’s simply got encore number written all over it.
None The Wiser is a highly enjoyable, infectious piece of upbeat indie rock that will surely see the band scale new heights. Whilst enjoying considerable support from a solid fanbase, The Rifles have never really gained the recognition that bands like The Kooks or even The Enemy have enjoyed in the past. But None The Wiser could be just the ticket to transform that cult status into something much bigger.