By Club Smith
Can you be Beautiful and Useless? On this evidence yes; in places Club Smith's new release 'Appetite For Chivalry' is beautiful: plucked strings and echo electronics. In others it's useless: the singing style and guitar playing of a punk band trapped in some weird, warped, electro-synth dungeon.
But for all that, there is the odd track or two where it works. Very well. Track 6 "I didn't want to show you that I'd lost faith" is an apt title - because stick with this album and you may just find that you are rewarded.
When the band stop mixing genres and just concentrate on one sound the results are startling - as on 'In Arrears' which is comfortably the best track on the album, lead singer Sam Robson's vocals in perfect harmony with the guitar and keyboard backing.
Strangely, for a band that are 'alternative indie-rock', it is the punkiness that doesn't sit right on this album; no longer has the last chord sounded on 'In Arrears' than we are back into the over-blown harsh sounds and vocal yelling of 'Nonchalant' - something this particular track is certainly not.
The punk tracks are such a contrast to the softer electro sounds that permeate the rest of the album that a certain amount of head-scratching ensues; as if you have to ask yourself - this is one album, and not two separate albums made by two separate bands but accidentally mixed together. Right?
Coming in at just over half an hour and squeezing in ten tracks illustrates another of this album's failings - it feels rushed. Tunes speeded up just to get to the end, when the best tracks deserve some further development.
Resorting to that pointless hollering backing sound, which seems to be sound of the month right now, also adds nothing to this intended banquet for the ears.
In a dirty grungy club this will probably play well. As an album to listen to on your own, anytime, anywhere it just doesn't hit the mark. The overriding feeling is one of disappointment; it could have been so much more, and in places it is. But the better tracks are buried in the superfluous; not trying hard enough to escape.
There are so many bands out there clamouring to be the next big thing that you really have to have something special to make it. Sadly, on this evidence, Club Smith just ain't got it. Must try harder.