...It’s nice to see that some people are still having fun.
Tom George 2007-09-07
The Rumble Strips were formed from the abandoned original line-up of 50’s-rock imitators Vincent Vincent & The Villains. Lead singer Charlie Waller was a villain, in every sense, ditching Vincent Vincent to rejoin his childhood friends in The Rumbles. At first listen to Girls & Weather, however, it’s hard to tell why he went through all the hassle.
This is shirts-rolled-up-past-the-bicep rock n’ roll and you’re half-waiting for Vincent to pop up with his minor-hit "Johnny Two Bands", penned after Waller’s departure. That feeling lasts about half a minute, before it becomes clear that The Rumble Strips have something Vincent Vincent never had – variety.
The sax and trumpet parts weaved artfully throughout the record, along with Waller’s exceptional vocal, give the songs more dynamism and shifts in mood than should reasonably be expected from three minutes of pop-rock. And while the album may be broadly upbeat, there’s a deliciously dark underbelly epitomised by tracks like "No Soul" and "Hate Me (You Do)".
'I don’t like doing things / That other folks tell me to do / So I hit him with a hammer / And now he’s quite subdued', sings Waller (don’t worry, he’s talking about his alarm clock).
Yes it’s all pretty throw-away, lyrically speaking, but there’s a energy that runs through Girls & Weather and it catches that oft-missed balance between saccharine and uplifting. If this doesn’t cast at least a flicker of a smile on your face then you are officially dead on the inside.
It’s not all top-notch – see the beyond-pointless "Building A Boat" – but when it comes together it’s really quite special. "Time", the standout track, is brilliant: three-part harmonies and shifts in pace abound, the brass and rhythm building, building, building.
At a time when the uk music scene is facing up to the latest wave of pissed-off, what-you-looking-at rock bands, it’s nice to see that some people are still having fun.