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We'll Live And Die In These Towns

Having debuted at Number One in the UK album charts last week, it would appear that working-class Coventry trio The Enemy are now officially the next big thing.

Rating: 7 ½ / 10

Olaf Tyaransen, 03 Aug 2007

Having debuted at Number One in the UK album charts last week, it would appear that working-class Coventry trio The Enemy are now officially the next big thing. Still in their late teens, they’re even younger than the Arctic Monkeys (who were, you will undoubtedly recall, the last big thing).

With a name like The Enemy, it’s hardly surprising that the NME have been championing them. But, thankfully, it’s not all empty hype.

Their influences are obvious and proudly worn. These are young musicians who’ve been brought up on a steady diet of early Oasis, The Jam and British new wave. However, while they’ve picked up some smooth guitar moves from their musical heroes, The Enemy still have some semblance of originality.

There’s a premature world-weariness and wistful sense of melancholy permeating many of these eleven songs. If this album has a central theme, it’s to do with the desire to avoid the pitfalls of small town provincial England and not to waste your life working as a wage slave.

The punky opening track ‘Aggro’ spells out exactly what it is they’re hoping to escape from on the mean streets of Coventry. “Call the police!” sings Tom Clarke, “cos things are getting ugly/Get on your feet/I want you running with me.”

‘Away From Here’ further explains their agenda: “I’m so sick, sick, sick and tired/Of working just to be retired/I don’t want to get that far/I don’t want your company car/Promotions ain’t my thing/Name badges are not interesting/It’s much easier for me, see/To stay at home with Richard and Judy.

‘Pressure’ features a theatrical vocal and wonderfully wailing guitar line that sounds like something U2 would have conjured up in 1979.

The album is almost worth buying for the title track alone. ‘We’ll Live And Die In These Towns’ is a Weller-esque classic, opening with mournful brass but soon segueing neatly into something far more ballsy: “You spend your time in smoky rooms/Where haggard old women with cheap perfume say/It never happens for people like us you know/Well nothing ever happened on its own.”

Produced and mixed by Barny (thankfully, not a rock dinosaur) – whose previous credits include Elastica, the Super Furry Animals and Coldplay – the album doesn’t let up in its second half. The pace is hard and fast, and there are enough sharp and spiky guitar riffs to do your ears serious damage.

‘It’s Not OK’ is better than OK. ‘Technodanceaphobic’ and ‘40 Days And 40 Nights’ stray a little into Arctic Monkeys territory, but are still worthy inclusions.

They slow towards the end. ‘This Song’ is a softly gorgeous lament to everything this band are trying not to be: “Half the kids that aren’t pushing prams/Are now pushing pills to boys and girls that are half their age/And the pubs and clubs are full of drunks/That don’t remember the day they were born/Or even remember their name.”

‘Happy Birthday Jane’ is a gentle and uplifting closer, a simple string-drenched birthday present for a girl named, em, Jane. It might have made more sense as a hidden bonus track, but it certainly doesn’t diminish the album. Actually, it’s a sonically smooth soft landing.

There’s not a whole lot of musical experimentation here, but that’s not necessarily a problem when you’re making old school rock ‘n’ roll to this high standard. Expect a Blur v Oasis style stand-off between The Enemy and The Monkeys around this time next year.

Rating: 7 ½ / 10
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