Great name for a band. Ah screw it, it’s a spectacular name for a band, laden with a forceful elegance and a hint of subtle intelligence. Also, and Christ knows these days far more importantly, the hair is pretty damn fantastic too. But wait. Aren’t we forgetting something. Something vaguely musical?
Hold on, what’s this, creeping up towards us from last year? Not Love Is A Number!? AHHHHH! BAM! SMASH! TAKE THAT INDIE SCENESTER! “Oh, oh, I wish I had written that”, says Kele Bloc Party. “No shit”, says the rest of the world.
Then, just as we’ve almost recovered, they did it again. With epitaphs already being inked as just another one-Paul-Epworth-produced-hit wonder, out leapt Alsatian. And the naysayers (who Love Is… had still managed to line up on the dancefloor) had their brains pulled out through the nose and presented to them on a bed of knife edged riffs. “!!!”, says Kele Bloc Party, “No shit” says the rest of the world.
But was that opening salvo WRM showing us the extent of their hand? Is this a massive disappointment? Nah. Nothing quite beats Alsatian’s grimy industrial groove, or the way Love Is A Number could easily soundtrack Shoreditch’s very own version of Deliverance (“I’m gonna make you DANCE PIGGY!!!”), although the gloriously sneery charisma of London’s Mine comes within a gnat’s chuff, but Kick is an album by a band more than just the sum of their kecks.
Girls In The Back is a glammy, glittery monster, smeared enough sleaze to entertain a politician, while Idiot Drugs erupts from humble beginnings to an intoxicating metallic march of a conclusion, like being chased by Depeche Mode through the set of Blade Runner whilst on copious amounts of bad speed.
Where it works less well is when they lose their edge. Both Deborah Carne and Speed lack the “fuck-you” arrogance in their delivery, leaving a pair of eighties new-wave refugees rescued from the pound but then left to fend for themselves in the cruel naughties, without even a new coat to protect them from the cold. And remember, a Human League song is for life, not just for your debut album.
When Kick lands its blows, and it lands them more often than not, it’s a ballsy, hedonistic rush. The influences are obvious, but where WRM succeed is in breathing new life into a tired template, adding attitude and intent on top of an effortlessly stylish base. It’s a fine debut, and one that definitely suggests that Kele might have to pick his jaw up from the floor again in the not too distant future.