The Pigeon Detectives Up, Guards and at ‘Em! Review

Released 2011.  

BBC Review

The Leeds band’s third album finds them treading water.

Mark Beaumont 2011

With The View setting the bar high for indie guitar bands in 2011, and The Wombats likely to do similar, The Pigeon Detectives will have to go some to prove their worth after 2008’s disappointing second album Emergency comprehensively failed to live up to the promise of the Leeds band’s hit-drenched debut, Wait For Me.

From She Wants Me, the execrable first track of this third record, you’d dismiss them for having taken the clichéd guitar band ‘reinvention’ route and gone electro, albeit without learning to play their extremely wonky synths first. For the rest of this plodding, uninspired 37 minutes, you’ll wish they actually had.

It seems The Pigeon Detectives are mired deep in their furrow, as from track two onwards Up, Guards and at ‘Em! retreads exactly the same ground as their previous two albums – chant-worthy, Kaiser Chiefs-y indie-pop of a laddish hue, heavy on catchy choruses, light on lyrical subtlety. Matt Bowman is never going to win any Nobel prizes for poetry: when melodic stand-out Through the Door manages to lift itself out of the general indie sludge that weighs down the rest of the record, Bowman’s lyrics, as clunky as a brick dropped off the Empire State, drag it off into the realms of comedy. One minute it sounds like he’s singing mid-burgling job ("We came in here through the window / But we’ll be leaving through the door"), the next he appears to end up at a firebombed nightclub ("I wanna dance with you but my hands are on fire!"). Ludicrous.

Otherwise the band struggles to dredge up any sort of sparkle, no matter how finely-forged the hook. Go at It Completely and What Can I Say? boast a little of their debut’s florid fire and there’s a scratchy charm to the moments where some fragility emerges (the Strokes-y Turn the Lights Out and the painfully warped I Don’t Know You). But a good third of the album – Done in Secret, What You Gonna Do?, Need to Know This – is a drag to plough through: phoned in, zoned out, treading water, joyless.

Considering the rude health of their competition, The Pigeon Detectives’ game needs to be severely upped.

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