What did the people ever do to deserve this?
Chris Power 2009-04-30
Comprising triumphant Glastonbury appearances, a no.1 debut album (2007's We'll Live and Die in These Towns), a support slot with the Rolling Stones and even a song licensed for Guitar Hero: World Tour, Coventry three-piece The Enemy have enjoyed a rapid rise since signing a major label deal in 2006. All that work won't necessarily be undone by the release of their terrible second album, but it certainly represents a knockback.
Rather than the vaguely socialist call-to-arms its title is probably meant to taken as, Music For The People instead sounds like the sort of album that would result if a government committee was charged with manufacturing a bestselling band to help the ailing economy. The resulting mess – some Oasis here, a bit of Pulp there, a pinch of Verve, a dollop of The Jam – is derivative and indigestible.
Frontman Tom Clarke can be an engaging interviewee, but his facility with words appears to seize up when it comes to writing lyrics. A couplet from opener Elephant Song, ''Concrete up to the sky/A million people living a lie'' – is indicative of the general quality.
Musically, this is a karaoke album. The aforementioned Elephant Song is half Verve, half Led Zeppelin. No Time For Tears, with its baggy-era drumming and gospel-diva backing vocals, is reminiscent of Give Out But Don't Give Up-era Primal Scream. Nation Of Checkout Girls sounds like Kelly Stereophonic doing an impression of Paul Weller singing Common People. You probably never imagined you'd want to hear something like that, and you were quite right.
So much for originality, although to be fair modern British indie bands aren't currently where to look for that. Don’t Break The Red Tape oversteps the mark, however, by actually being The Clash's London Calling. Even penultimate track, Keep Losing - an acoustic ballad with a sweet melodic line that doesn't immediately remind you of something done better by someone else - is ruined with a string and woodwind section and dramatic backing vocals that, rather than adding gravitas, make the song's message of continual disappointment laughable rather than affecting. What did the people ever do to deserve this?