A tiny step forward for indulgent Leeds outfit
You may have thought that The Music had long been resigned to the scrapheap, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it, too; it’s been years since the Leeds band have bothered the charts (or their arses) with a decent record. While their 2002 self-titled debut was a conspicuously derivative affair, at least it spawned a couple of stellar singles – a claim that couldn’t rightfully be made for their underwhelming sophomore effort.
Strength In Numbers – the band’s third outing – rarely strays from their well-traipsed path of baggy/electronica/indie influences, either, despite enlisting heavy-hitters Flood and Paul Hartnoll on production duties. There’s little in the way of evolution here; Robert Harvey’s voice is still as shrill, sinewy and polarising as ever, and the songs are still semi-anthemic concoctions of indie-rock and repetitive, beat-heavy arrangements (the adequate ‘Strength In Numbers’ and ‘Fire’).
There are passing glimpses of progress, though: ‘Drugs’ and ‘Idle’ are both distinctively un-Music-like, all New Order-style gurgling basslines, floating melodies and semi-poignant lyrics, and on occasion, it even seems like Robert Harvey has mercifully grasped the ‘less is more’ vocal technique. Yet it’s still not enough to rescue the latter half of the album from unsullied mediocrity, and the closing four tracks are all drab, unimaginative and self-indulgent offerings that swerve dangerously close to prog. A forgivable trait from an inexperienced band, perhaps, but three albums in? This should be better.
Key Track: ‘Drugs’