Album Reviews

Wake The President – You Can’t Change That Boy

(Electric Honey) UK release date: 9 March 2009

Wake The President – You Can’t Change That Boy Wake The President‘s You Can’t Change That Boy is brought to us by Electric Honey, the independent label that has already helped launch the careers of Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro.

Great things are expected of Wake The President, and the band’s mainstays Bjorn and Erik Sandberg certainly have a musical background to equip them for the long run. The Glasgow-born identical twins are brothers of the techno DJ Funk D’Void and another brother is a professional jazz musician. To top it all, they have been running their own Say Dirty Records label for several years.

For their own band the Sandbergs mine a rich seam of Postcard Records-inspired jangle pop, a formula they stick to pretty rigidly during the course of this debut album. Where Glasgow’s favourite sons Franz Ferdinand have always had one eye on the dance floor, Wake The President are firmly rooted in the sixth form college room. The rhythm section of Mark and Scott is competent but fairly routine.

There is enough melodic wit and clever wordplay on You Can’t Change That Boy (great album cover by the way) to delight fans of Belle and Sebastian and Emma Pollock. Something To Turn Up is a sweeping opener that segues neatly into the jostling Professor. Erik Sandberg’s heavy Scots brogue is hard to keep up with at times, but lyrical gems such as ‘It would be a piece of vain flattery/To suggest that we were entirely content together’ make their presence known.

Mail, Alice starts with a thumping drum beat that sounds like Chelsea Dagger, but you could barely imagine The Fratellis opening a song with the line ‘Cognitive therapy is what you need’. Upcoming single Miss Tierney glides by on a cavernous bass line and jangly guitar hook straight out of the Orange Juice songbook.

There is a certain charm to the way the Sandbergs court their musical heroes that prevents the album descending into simple mimicry. Whether it is the acoustic ruminations of Wake or the staccato indie pop of the title track, there is an intimacy to proceedings that makes the band’s songs easy to love.

Granted, several of these songs have been doing the rounds for a couple of years now, including the aforementioned Mail, Alice and You Can’t Change That Boy. Remember Fun? is another and its simple pop charms have already gained the band some valuable mainstream airplay.

What is pleasing is the way the newer tracks also cut the mustard. The Security Place is a verbose slice of real life that already looks set to be a live favourite, while the sexual frankness of Just Give Me Two Secs would make Aidan Moffat glow with pride. They even change tack right at the end of the album by going all atmospheric on the closing A&E.

The Scottish indie scene continues to roll out great music and Wake The President are sure to turn some heads this year.

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