Red is a frustrating record; for every moment of brilliance you find yourself tearing...
Rowan Collinson 2008
If there’s one thing Guillemots can’t be accused of, it's lack of ambition. Whilst contemporaries were busy aping Gang Of Four's art rock, their 2006 debut, Through The Windowpane, featured treated pianos, vaudevillian theatrics and an 11 minute closing track. Still, when your lead singer's called Fyfe Dangerfield, you can hardly be expected to sound like The Fratellis.
Red is no less ambitious than its predecessor, but this time Guillemots have one ear on the mainstream. Lead single Get Over It pulsates with keyboards and an infectious chorus, whilst Cockateels adds heavenly choirs and strings to the template of Annie, Let's Not Wait. Meanwhile Kriss Kross – with its stabbing strings, urgent rhythms and a chorus written for the stadiums - is one of best pop moments of this year.
Guillemots Achilles' heel, however, has always been their desire to be quirky. Too many times Red falls foul of overbearing, cluttered production, which renders Last Kiss and Clarion almost unlistenable. Meanwhile Fyfe's flirtation with r & b on Big Dog is dreadful and – it's fair to say - won't be giving Timberland sleepless nights. For all Red's musical bluster, there's nothing here as genuinely affecting as Redwings from their debut.
Red is a frustrating record; for every moment of brilliance you find yourself tearing your hair out at their deliberate obtuesness. Guillemots could be one of Britain's biggest bands, but until they exercise a little more musical self-control, these sea birds may struggle to fly to the heights they deserve.