Much has been said about the Music’s troublesome four years away from the spotlight, what with being dropped from their record label and many personal problems within the band. This would be enough for many bands to call it a day and move towards an unsuccessful solo project, but The Music have defied the odds and put out another album.
Things have changed in the past four years too – the Led Zeppelin inspired stoner-rock is out of the window and replaced with a synth driven sound that’s reminiscent of The Whip in places and Klaxons in the other.
Things get off to a reasonably strong start, the first single from the album and the title track is an all out, guns blazing statement of defiance with Rob Harvey bellowing “Strength in numbers/no-one will come between us”. It’s a great song with a fantastic bassline – if you listen hard enough. For some bizarre reason the bassline which is the best part of this song is buried way down in the mix with no real hook taking priority over the other and the result is that it almost feels like a lumpen mess.
As a result, it should only really pass for a demo. This is a thematic problem for quite a few of the songs on the album, ‘The Spike’ and ‘Fire’ are incendiary slabs of rave tinted rock yet you can’t help but feel that they could be so much more if the production was just that little bit more clinical.
To make matters worse, numbers such as ‘Get Through It’ and ‘Idle’ are fairly uninteresting affairs. The former sounds like the theme tune to an “edgy” Channel Four reality show that’s not been commissioned yet, the latter never really hits its stride.
As the album begins to reach its inevitable end things begin to pick up again, ‘No Weapon Sharper Than Will’ with Harvey’s impassioned cry of “I’m not going to live my life alone” is another belting slab of rave-rock and ‘Inconceivable Odds’ is the only song that has any kind of real place on either of the last two albums, an acoustic led ballad that sums up the defiance of the Mancunians. It harks more to the solo work of Richard Ashcroft rather than the rest of the album, but at least it’s a good song in its own right if a little fractured from what’s preceded it.
On the whole, this could have been a contender for album of the year. Gone are the horrendously dull and seemingly never ending jams of old and in are a tightness of songwriting (despite a lull in the middle of the album) and a sound that’s just begging for Soulwax to come along and do their dirty little thing with it. Here’s hoping that album four comes with the same quality behind the mixing desk as in front of it.