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Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Spitfires: A Thousand Times

It's Summer 2016 and The Spitfires are due to release their second album "A Thousand Times" at the end of this month (26th August). Last year saw the release of their debut album "Response" which sparked a range of reviews from the sussed and the clueless. The Spits have been coined simply a 'Mod Revival Band' but they're so much more than that! The fact they've been labeled that speaks volumes about our music journalism. But I'll put it right! 'Response' introduced many to The Spitfires and I stand for many when I say it was a sterling debut! Written with fire, skill and passion 'Response' took you on a journey through the social standing of Britain in 2015. An album which gave a good kick to the teeth of the modern music industry and put the likes of 'Mumford and Sons' and 'Coldplay' to shame. "A  Thousand Times" is next level and like Modernism is very progressive. It's both beautiful and dark at the same time and gives the whole movement that is The Spits a new direction. Here I give you my thoughts in a track-by-track review...

01 'A Thousand Times' 

An emphatic album opener which pulls you out of your daydream and into the reality of 2016. The hum drum of the lead guitar in the initial few seconds fills you with anticipation to how the album is going to open. Then it hits you instantly a chaotic mix of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard all pulling together to create a colossal sound. The chorus echoes "Feels like we've been here a thousand times!" you can sense Billy's frustration here not only for the song but towards society and austerity as we know it. 'A Thousand Times' tells a tale of a modern British couple going through the mundane and trying to get rid of their troubles. It's a cry for help, a song of truth and really speaks volumes about what happens behind closed doors. 'A Thousand Times' gives many an insight into modern life and like Blur said, it's rubbish! Proper opening track with passion and spirit and if it doesn't get the record label geeks listening then I don't know what will! 

02 'Last Goodbye' 

Effects are a plenty at the beginning of this number and this shows the clear progression The Spits are showcasing with this second LP. Then the guitar kicks in and slaps you in the face. The unity of the band is immense and they're tight as anything on this record. Billy's vocals are in your face and compliment the music perfectly. Chris's keyboard comes into it's own on this track and I couldn't imagine hearing it without it! "This might be the last goodbye" a song of sorrow perhaps? If true it certainly doesn't feel like that as the tune is upbeat and makes you want to go out and have a few! A modern masterpiece and definitely one of my favourite tunes on the album. There's not enough songs like this in the charts that actually say something and that's one thing that every track on the album does! That middle class geezer Bastille couldn't produce a cracker like this, that's for sure! 

03 'Day To Day' 

What an intro! 70's Cop Drama meets suburban London and The Spits take things up a level here with a real funk inspired opening score. It's cool as and then the guitar kicks in and reminds you that this lot are a proper guitar band too! It's got the feel of a SKA track with a heavier focus on guitar and harmony. Now harmonies are something which really stand out here between Sam and Billy and they work brilliantly complimenting each others voices. They keyboard adds that funk vibe throughout and really shows how diverse the bands sound is. The progression from 'Response' is evident in every track and this is certainly one of the standout ones. 

04 'Open My Eyes' 

Now this track really takes things up a notch. I've always said that a good Indie debut has to have a great acoustic track and although this isn't an Indie album it's got a great acoustic track in 'Open My Eyes' It's just Billy, Sam, a guitar and some beautifully arranged strings. Sublime. It shows Billy in a new light and reminds me of his solo performances of '4 AM' on various live shows. The strings compliment the guitar playing perfectly and Billy proves here just how good a vocalist he is! It's a calming track which allows you to draw perspective on the previous three. It's a track of self reflection. Think Weller, Dylan and Heaton. 

05 'On My Mind' 

Revving back up to full speed 'On My Mind' springs up in the middle of the album. This is the latest single from the lads and it takes things to new levels. Pizzicato mixes well with guitar strumming and sets off this corker of a track. The production on this album is second to none and you can really feel that in this track. Well constructed verses meet with a football chant worthy chorus which kicks the arse out of anything in chart circulation at the moment. Once again the harmonies are there and sound mint. I can see it going off when this is played live, pints everywhere! If you could catch a sound as to where the band are heading it would be this tune. It doesn't sound like anyone it's The Spitfires and people need to start realising this. It's 2016, and its fucking good!

06 'So Long' 

The single released before 'On My Mind' and it's just as good, reaching number one on the UK Vinyl Chart! One thing with The Spits is their consistency it never falters. A chaotic mix of guitars and keyboard bring this one home. It's got kick and spirit and should really make the clueless listen up. If the record companies aren't hearing this, then what are they doing? 'So Long' really asks the question, Do any labels have the bottle to sign The Spits? If I was loaded I'd give em a 5 album deal no sweat! 'So Long' echoes the greats which have come and gone but The Spits use that inspiration for their own brand of punky power pop. The songs structure is superb with a fine middle eight being used to bridge the two halves of the tune. A real bouncy tune that will open many ears! 

07 'I Don't Even Know Myself' 

Absolutely love this tune, jesus it hits you every time! I hate to say a band sounds like another band but the opening 10 seconds have definite nods to The Ordinary Boys third album with great harmonies and keyboard work. Then the vocal kicks in, "I feel my life's been rearranged but there's still some things I can never change" powerful stuff which cuts through the listener. Brass is used beautifully here and adds brilliantly to the overall sound! It's 100 mph and has you tapping your foot wherever you are. I love it, one of my favourite songs by the lads! A song which depicts the rush hour nature of modern life which we can all relate to! At one point Billy is on his own speaking the lyric, "And my blood it flows, it could take me to depths unknown." say no more it's powerful stuff which singles the listener out speaking right into their ear. Finished off with some fine Brass it comes to a fantastic end. 

08 'The Suburbs (We Can't Complain)' 

B Side to 'So Long' I'm really glad to see this tune make the album cut as it's a belter. It makes the mundane seem beautiful through the use of jangly guitars and Hammond keyboard. It's great to hear every member of the band being utilised from Matt keeping the beat on the drums right through to Billy's vocal, it works. 'The Suburbs (We Can't Complain)' makes you want to jump about and puts into context the harsh reality some people living in Britain face. The band is all on the same vibe, with each member adding their bit of magic into the mix. Suburban life is well and truly caught here and we can all relate to it. A massive tune, with big heart! 

09 'Return To Me' 

Beginning with a sound bite from the tube it reminds you that The Spits are a credit to the Big Smoke which they frequent regularly. It's a real groovy tune which speaks the truths of modern life. "No need to judge them actions, we'll keep dropping them bombs" a harsh reality written beautifully which really hits me on every listen. The chorus is huge here. It reminds me of early tunes of The Enemy's which spoke to me just like this track does. The strings are back and are arranged better than some of The Last Shadow Puppets stuff and that's saying something because they're ace too! It really is superb, as it shows the huge step up from their great debut album and if people can't see this they're proper clueless. Quality boys, well played! 

10 'On My Mind (Reprise)'

A great bit of acapella from the lads here which bridges the gap approaching the last song on the LP. I'm not going to say too much here but give this a proper listen. It reminds me of what the Roses did with 'Elizabeth My Dear' on their debut. Superb!

11 'A Better Life' 

Acoustic guitar sets the pace before the vocals kick in. A tale of struggle and angst which takes you on a journey as you listen. "I see no way out of this our lives are drifting through the mist.." great lyrics which describe the characters struggle and feelings towards his problem. There's loads going on here, brass, keys, guitar and stellar vocals. It's proper and speaks the truth about the challange many people face to provide! A massive way to end an album which really leave an effect on the listener! It leaves you wanting more and I didn't know what to do when it ended! The album leaves a huge impact on the listener and is bound to shake things up out there!

A sterling second encounter with The Spitfires which takes you on a roller-coaster of emotion. Released on Catch 22 Records on August 26th get it here: http://www.thespitfires.org/ . It comes in the form of a 7-inch boxset for those that like a spin and of course is available on CD and 12-inch formats also. As always cheers to Stu and the lads for the early listen, big up! 


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger