- 10 Oct 05
Album number three sees them progress to such a startling extent that they have a right to believe both critical acclaim and commercial success will follow.
When The Revs appeared in a pantomime a few years back, it must have given even their staunchest fans pause for thought. They were in danger of pigeon-holing themselves as a novelty item – in which case, lofty ambitions to displace any of the country’s rock gods would surely ultimately count for nought. Songs like ‘Wired to the Moon’ and ‘Death of a DJ’ may have been full of charm, but the Donegal three-piece had yet to prove that they could make music of real substance.
Against that backdrop, The Revs is an unexpected and thrilling surprise that answers their detractors in the best possible way. In effect, like Snow Patrol and The Frames before them, album number three sees them progress to such a startling extent that they have a right to believe both critical acclaim and commercial success will follow. Truly, they are a group reborn.
For a start, the prominent influence of Green Day is submerged, replaced by a glorious amalgam of the sounds of Doves, U2, Teenage Fanclub and, to marvellous effect in places, The Beatles. Crucially however, this time around such influences remain subtle and just below the surface. Inspirations are assimilated and mastered: The Revs has the stamp of both real originality and pop nous.
The band’s new sense of maturity is burnished by a huge leap forward in the songwriting department. What we get is frequently stunningly good, and there’s not a mediocre song here. The exceedingly catchy ‘You Shine’ in particular stands out. Combining the melodic shifts of Teenage Fanclub with the prominent bass lines of The Stone Roses, it adds up to a sunshiney treat.
‘Borderland’ meanwhile, underlines their new found lyrical and musical maturity, a world away from adolescent frustrations with club DJs. Where previously they would have tackled the chorus at breakneck speed, there’s a pause and a step back, shifting the emphasis firmly onto the lyrical content. Throughout, the power of subtlety is very much in evidence. This is great pop music, but pop music with heart and emotional heft.
If there is an abiding influence on the record, then it’s that of early U2. Vocalist Rory Gallagher teases a sweetness out of his voice, far from the sneer of past, and, like Bono, demonstrates the ability to really get inside a song, particularly on the hugely impressive ‘Here’s Where The Conversation Ends’.
This is heavyweight stuff. Superbly produced and mixed – by the teams responsible for Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay respectively – The Revs is made for radio but retains a sharp and contemporary rock’n’roll edge. It may not be their ultimate masterpiece – The Revs are still a young band with lots of growing to do – but at the very least, you’ll be spoiled if you hear a better Irish rock album all year.