'If this album had been made by The Strokes or another of the current Flavour of the Month bands, the critics would be raving about it.'
Luxembourg, the first album released after The Bluetones' departure from major label land, gets compared to The Strokes a lot. I've done so myself. Often it's in somewhat misguided lines like the one above, which make for very nice wishful thinking but are probably not true.
"Liquid Lips" as as close as they come. Weirdly, the one Strokes song that it most closely resembles is "Juicebox", released two years later. Give or take a note, the exact same bassline snakes through it and similarly completely dominates the song. The staccato guitar is tightly wound around it, and even when allowed a solo Adam Devlin just adds some fuzz to the same progression. They don't pull off quite such a full sound as "Juicebox", but the kinetic effect is very similar. The WHOMP, WHOMP of drums in the intro go one better, even.
But then there's Mark Morriss. He's one of my favourite singers, right up there with Guy Garvey and some other people without alliterative names. He's great. I don't tend to think about him as much, normally, because the main reason is that he's endlessly, incredibly easy to listen to. Which doesn't sound much until I try to think of anyone else that has the same ability to never get in the way, never even slightly grate and twist the emotions with the tinyest of changes, and there is no one. Anyway, the point that I was going to get to is that this doesn't apply to "Liquid Lips". I notice him, every time, because he doesn't fit. It's an angry song, the calling out of a 'backstabber, money grabber' who has somehow fooled everyone else. Its lyrics are a little ropey but could potentially have worked as the rantings of someone too angry to think of anything better and just starting to throw whatever comes into his head ('Liquid lips baby you would stink on ice'?). They don't though, because he fusses over every word, overemphasising a lot and seeming to double guess what will work best rather than being as effortlessly natural as normal. He even sounds a little thin and reedy for the first time ever and also gives the exact opposite of Julian Casablancas' phoned in drawl, funnily enough.
I know that it contradicts my last entry to some extent, but this is evidence that trying to change sound away from your strengths isn't always the best move.
Despite those misgivings, "Liquid Lips" is still a much more enjoyable attempt at owning a new, harder sound than the actual A-side of the 'double A-side' that trailed Luxembourg. We'll get onto that at some point in future, though.
(No entry tomorrow I'm afraid as I'm off to Muse at Wembley. Working, rather than watching.)