Imagine early Supergrass gone delinquent and you’re just about there.
Johnny Sharp 2011
Before we hear a note of Thee Spivs’ music, a number of preconceptions are offered up to us. For starters, simply by adding that extra ‘e’ to the definite article in their name, they are instantly pledging allegiance to a garage punk/psych scene in which Billy Childish is a living god and trousers are never knowingly wider than a malnourished ankle.
The old-fashioned (but great) word ‘Spiv’, along with the title of their second album, also present strong hints that we are dealing with a group with more than a casual interest in music of the distant past. Then you glance at the timings of the songs and your spirits lift immeasurably – half of them are under two minutes long! Fourteen songs clocking up barely 30 minutes in total! In a world of self-important three-hour movies and 70-minute albums, economy of expression is always commendable.
And if you were in any doubt about what to expect from Thee Spivs, We See Red, a superbly caustic gobbet of furious punk pop that opens the album, settles that in one minute and 53 seconds.
Ben Edge’s snotty, estuary-vowelled voice will forever have a spiritual home in a grimy London suburb circa 1979, and I can’t imagine any other band has called a song Flicking V’s since 1983. Nonetheless, Thee Spivs can’t be accused of merely aping past glories – there’s a spunky, evergreen vitality about the acoustic-led Your Time and a Jam-esque pop sensibility to People Come and People Go that will never sound anything but fresh. Imagine early Supergrass gone delinquent on cheap speed and you’re just about there.
The blueprint hasn’t changed significantly since last year’s debut album, but as they would surely tell you: progression in pop is way overrated. That said, the organ sound spidering across Jealous Friend and Back to the Start is a welcome addition. All they need now is a couple more songs that fix permanent hooks in your head, then their irresistibly punchy punk assault will really draw blood.