30 minutes of ardent indie crackle worthy of no few plaudits.
Mark Beaumont 2010
Think Before You Speak, the 2007 debut from these spiky-of-guitars Londoners, was all about getting out of suburbia: tales of teen infatuation from the extremities of the Northern Line. This follow-up is about getting out of love. Singer Rhys Jones underwent a protracted break-up during the writing period and his heartbreak is writ large across this charmingly scratchy half-hour. “Times change, but I love you the same,” he warbles, like XTC’s Andy Partridge at his most emotionally fragile; “then she walks away.” No Hope, No Future? The boy got it bad.
Has it dampened their effervescent art pop any? Sparingly, yes. Everything You Do plods with a mournful monotony usually reserved for Cure albums, but otherwise we’re in familiar jolt-pop territory here. The Way My Heart Beats quivers with the same itchy vitality that made their early singles such Cloverfields of indie dancefloors; Under Control is as much like The Rakes as you can get without quitting an economics degree due to the ravages of sclerosis.
Rhys was overstating the case when he touted this as a “more intricate and heavier” album, but it’s when Good Shoes push their stylistic envelope that Rhys also overcomes his lyrical despondency and gets philosophical. Over the disjointed punk of I Know he rants around the religion debate in a fit of Black Francis hysteria: “To be raised with religion is to be brainwashed from the very start / but an atheist preaching atheism is just as bad as so heartily believing in God”. Our Loving Mother in a Pink Diamond plays a similarly wrong-footing trick: childhood holiday snapshots over the kind of prog guitar solos not heard this side of Genesis’ Foxtrot. Yet it’s authentically ramshackle enough to come across as an ironic nod to theatrical 70s British rock whimsy. The cheeky blighters.
After 30 minutes of ardent indie crackle, closer City by the Sea comes as a soothing shock – a lush urban ballad in the vein of Jamie T. A polished version of this sort of thing took The Wombats to the business end of the charts, but Good Shoes’ charm lies in their DIY aesthetic; they record in garden sheds and mates’ studios and align themselves with art-rock luminaries like The Maccabees, who themselves delivered a much feted ‘dark’ second album in 2009. Good Shoes have home-produced a record worthy of similar plaudits; there’s both hope and future here in abundance.