Review by Paul Broome
I first saw New Killer Shoes as a support act in a small pub in Redditch, playing through a tiny PA that kept tripping out every couple of songs. Even in such inauspicious surroundings it was obvious that they had something special, so I’m not really surprised that a little over two years later they’re touring Europe, sharing the stage with Seattle’s Brad and releasing their debut album.
I’ve been waiting for this album for most of those two years. I’ve seen and heard the songs growing from small acorns to the mighty stomping oaks they have become, in live venues across the Midlands. Listening to the finished work now, I’ve rarely felt more fulfilled. The positivity, energy, skill and good humour that the lads display on stage is all here, along with a few moments of sobriety and reflection which the album format affords more accomodatingly than the stage.
Like the recent Virginmarys debut album, what New Killer Shoes offer up on I Ain’t Even Lyin’ is a constant onslaught of stage-wrought anthems. One after another, each individual and identifiable – great riffs, addictive choruses, and performances of abandon. The lyrics tell of mad nights out and wasted days in; relationships good, bad and twisted. Basically the wants, needs, desires and fears of any young lad in any small town (or big city) across this fair land of ours. But these (supposedly) small subjects are given all of the import they deserve by the scale of the musical landscape they’re presented in. The quality of the lyrics really can’t be overstated and shouldn’t be overlooked – they are insightful, considered, witty and authentic.
Describing New Killer Shoes musical style to the uninitiated is a tricky proposition – their pop sensitivities are impossible to ignore (it’s what makes their work so instantly listenable in the first place), but they have purloined elements from a number of other styles to create their own identifiable arena. I don’t think any other indie rock band has so successfully integrated subtle ska influences into their arsenal before, without it dominating the sound – just listen to the dancing bass and drums on the verse of ‘Leave Me Alone’. It’s testament to their skill as musicians that they can blend such diverse elements so seamlessly.
It’s also testament to the skills of producer Dan Sprigg – who has brought the full scope and variety of his past experiences (working with the likes of Bring Me the Horizon, Mexicolas, UB40 and Napalm Death) to the table. The bass rumbles clear and precise, the riffs sound huge, the solos epic, the vocal harmonies ambitious, and the drums urgently drive everything home.
I’m not going to give a track by track analysis – I’d just gush embarrassingly, and we’ll be here all day (when we could be dancing!) – I’ll just say there isn’t a dud here, every track deserves to be a single (even the stripped down acoustic bonus track ‘Losing My Mind’). It’s also worth saying that despite all of the mighty dancefloor riff-heavy anthems two of my favourite tracks are the two most reflective numbers, ‘Domestic’ and ‘Happy Families’. ‘Domestic’ especially hints at the variety and potential depth still to come from a band only just beginning to sketch out their manifesto.
The best thing about New Killer Shoes and this album is that what you see is what you get. There’s no hipster posturing, no cooler-than-thou fakeness – just four young lads writing songs about the world they know inside and out. The world they live in every day. Songs that could well turn out to be some of the greatest everylad anthems of this fledgling century. Buy it, put it on, turn it up, cut loose – life’s too short to live it with a douchebag stick up your bum.
I Ain’t Even Lyin’ is released on April 22nd, with pre-orders opening from late March – keep an eye on newkillershoes.com for more details. The single ‘Snakecharmer’ is available now from the usual MP3 based stores.
9.5 out of 10
(and I’m only holding that extra half point back because they’re already writing album number two, and I know it’s not beyond them to go even further)
- Pretty Reckless
- Leave Me Alone
- I Know You Want It
- Throwing Shapes
- Let’s Go Disco
- Make Your Move
- Happy Families
- Love Rocket
- Losing My Mind (bonus track)