The music industry can be a tough business sometimes – just ask The Twang. When they arrived on the scene back in 2007, the Birmingham band were the darlings of the music press. They were hailed as ‘Britain’s Best New Band’ by NME – not the first time the publication has over-hyped a band on very little evidence – but their debut album, Love It When I Feel Like This, was released to only decidedly mixed reviews.
The hype machine alone was enough to see them headlining the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury shortly after their debut was released, but the band were virtually discarded before they had even made it. Their second album, Jewellery Quarter, fared even worse and led to many critics – including NME, obviously – believing they had heard the last of The Twang. But the five-piece are nothing, if not resilient. Three years after their last release, The Twang are back with their third LP, entitled 10:20.
It has not been a particularly smooth road back, either, with the band recently announcing that drummer Matty Clinton had been sacked following the theft of £10,000 worth of studio equipment. However, despite the number of blows they have been dealt during their roller-coaster career, The Twang are still standing and as determined as ever to prove that the early hype was not misjudged. There’s certainly a feeling of getting one back on those who dismissed them so unceremoniously on Last Laugh, where Phil Etheridge sings: “This is the past that at last moves on/ laugh till the last of the money’s gone/ dreams become decayed/ you can ease the pain/ light turns to shade, then back again.”
Yet while The Twang’s dogged return is commendable after fading so quickly into obscurity, there was a reason why they never lived up to the hyperbole that was so carelessly thrown their way. Even when the band has penned decent tracks – Ice Cream Sundae, Either Way and Barney Rubble, for example – they have been largely forgettable. And the same can be said again of 10:20. Songs such as the anthemic single We’re A Crowd, the beautifully melancholic Paradise and the thrilling Guapa are all good tracks.
The latter, in particular, is one of the best songs on the album, telling the story of a rebel soldier falling in love days before going into battle. But even the quintet’s best material still lacks the infectious guitar hooks to really make the impact they so desperately crave. The thumping beat on the verse of Mainline suggests it could develop into something more significant, but instead it falls back on an unmemorable and rather dull chorus. Then there’s Take This On, which rests on a pleasant, shimmering guitar riff and Etheridge’s strong vocals. It’s a perfectly nice song; however, it’s unlikely to inspire a great deal of emotion.
That said, The Twang’s third LP is probably their strongest to date – it’s certainly a much better album than their laddish and disappointing debut album. The problem is that, like 10:20’s predecessor, there is nothing unique or groundbreaking on The Twang’s comeback record. Their cover of Factory Records heroes The Durutti Column’s Tomorrow is a surprising and welcome inclusion, but as with much of the album, it demonstrates the band’s limitations. When it comes down to it, The Twang will always be plagued by that early hype – something they are unlikely to ever live up to. Many hoped The Twang could become the next Arctic Monkeys, but five years on, the likelihood of that ever coming to fruition has now surely vanished.