It’s actually not an awful album but there’s nothing great about it either. It is direct, economical and narrowly avoids being plain, traditional, and tired. The trio have been consistent in their output but have tallied little by way of awards. However they have reliably delivered clean intelligent lyrics and the churning backing vocals, masculine though not out rightly macho tones are still the band’s staple ingredients.
Opening with Soldiers Make Good Targets, deep, relentlessly driving bass lines carry you along well enough. Front man Kelly Jones’s gruff vocals mourn the conceit of war which isn’t much of a controversial concept really. The usual riff fuelled guitar sound and drums ablaze makes you feel like maybe they really are ready to set off their creative grenades.
However, it only leads to a fairly systematic, mechanical, innocuous album. Even with his concerns musically and lyrically rooted in small town Britain (as usual), Jones fails to evoke any tension or grit in the situation. It Means Nothing is a dreamy track that bravely but embarrassingly combines love and terrorism, “And the sun sets in the sky/You’re the apple of my eye/If the bomb goes off again/In my brain or on the train/I hope that I’m with you/’Cos I wouldn’t know what to do”. Bank Holiday is a more pop orientated song and is all set to find itself on a dreary road trip compilation album without sounding like a single.
Halfway through, Stone is the most soulful offering but its wailing moans and repetition grate after the third minute. Daisy Lane’s mild, mangled wishy-washiness masks an opportunistic stab at the topic of pointless teenage murder. It’s a sincere effort that mercifully distances itself from any saccharine sentiment with Jones’ leadership.
These could be Oasis cast offs from the ’90s based on the compositions. Many of the tracks finish suddenly needlessly and jar the flow of the album and I wonder what the band has learnt in the last 10 years. Unlike the Manic Street Preachers, who has provided questions to modern life and responded with fitting music, the humdrum drone of Pull the Pin fails to challenge or impress.
The album has undoubtedly been an opus of dedication but essentially there is no spontaneity. Jones doesn’t present any remarkable quality or personality. There’s none of that spirited romance that Pete Doherty possesses or even (thankfully) the whiney, egocentric temper of Johnny Borrell. Thus, there is not a great deal to react to. By the end you really wish they had followed their own commands and ‘pulled the pin’ and set off some kind of bomb. Take that as a metaphor if you wish.