A fantastic reawakening for a band that could quite easily have fallen off Earth
Ian Wade 2009-07-07
The Rumble Strips first appeared out of Devon in late 2005, when they were bugled by the NME. They, in turn, had the band headline their New Music Tour in 2007 after a moderate beginning with their infuriatingly catchy tunes such as Girls And Boys In Love and Alarm Clock. Later that year, just after releasing their quite good Dexy's-infused debut album, Girls And Weather, singer Charles helped out Mark Ronson at the Electric Proms to deliver a version of the increasingly-absent Amy Winehouse's Back To Black. That seed sown, Ronson decided to take on production duties on what would become this, their second album, and as a result, his input has reinvigorated the Strips immeasurably.
What with 2009 fast becoming the year of the second album volte face (The Horrors, Jack Penate etc) Welcome To The Walkalone is a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience as a result. With Scott Walker, the wall of sound approach of Phil Spector and early 60s European soul as touchstones, the 11 tracks of Welcome... are imbued with drama, added dimensions and all-round spectacle, not least where Arcade Fire/Last Shadow Puppets' string-meister Owen Pallet throws in arrangements to increase his position as the indie Wally Stott.
Not The Only Person details an apology to some would-be muggers who were seen off by Charles' wife, yet sounds as dramatic as anything Scott Walker came up with in his peerless first four solo albums; the opener and title track literally sounds not-of-this-time yet thrillingly contemporary; Daniel is as windswept and indecipherable as Brel in a North London greasy spoon; Sweet Heart Hooligan dispenses with the need of the so-called poetry of Peter Doherty in its opening verses, while closer Happy Hell could quite easily be something Winehouse may come up with at some point.
Timeless, economically perfect tunes of wonder and the wanderlust of post-pub dreamers and kebab shop romances. Welcome To The Walkalone is a fantastic reawakening for a band that could quite easily have fallen off Earth to not much fanfare. Marvellous stuff.