On listening to the boys’ second album, you’d be forgiven for wondering at what point the decision was made to fully press on with a sound that marked a fairly significant shift from the past. Dramatically eschewing the conventional ‘second-album syndrome’ that afflicts so many of their contemporaries, this prominently advertised follow up manages to steer away from the typically fame-focused second major release but rather than let that represent a stagnation around the sound that brought them to wider attention, this album shows an urge to demonstrate a greater awareness of their viewpoint and experiences.
Again employing crunching, angular guitars and powerfully expressive vocals that have become their trademark, they evolve upon the maturity already evident in the first release, and by the titular track any worries that the drive that propelled them into the spotlight might have been lost is convincingly blown away.
The addition of the bugle works wonders for track 4, whilst the thirty-seven minute castanet solo on track 8 show a willingness to experiment so lacking in contemporary music. There can be no accusations of resting on previous successes here.
It’s not all a series of successes though, and the more emotionally charged ballad of track 9 has the tendency to dip into irredeemable melancholy when lamenting the end of a relationship. In fact, the majority of the album’s second half slips well and truly into ‘average’ territory. Repetitive choruses may make for entertaining live tracks but they leave much to be desired when listening to a studio recording.
Whether it’s a lack of urgency or a greater sense of concern at alienating the fans that propelled them so swiftly into their current position, there’s no way to fully endorse this half-hearted experiment. Ultimately for a second offering, it’s far better than might be expected, especially considering the frequent rumours about deteriorating relationships within the line up, and the hype machine can be expected to roll out for a second time around. Still, there is something intangibly missing from the release, something one can only hope will be rectified come the inevitable third album. What that will hold, anyone knows.