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The Young Knives Ornaments From the Silver Arcade Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

The Leicestershire indie-poppers continue to be a cut above their peers on album three.

Fraser McAlpine 2011

Slinky things are taking place in the seething cauldron of resentment and awkwardness in which The Young Knives mix their singular brew. Where once there was angular riffery, vitriol and barbed humour, there is now angular riffery, vitriol, barbed humour and something else. Something kinda... sexy?

Not that this is one of those tiresome indie-band-goes-electro-pop situations – this lot are far too canny for a tired and desperate move like that. But they have resurrected a fine, and criminally under-used, career trajectory from the history of rock music: they are the band that starts off weird and good and gets poppier, and better, from album to album.

Cases in point come thick and fast. Woman is a seedy affair blessed with heavenly female voices and stout, parping brass. Everything Falls Into Place, a first-listen favourite, stomps in like a cowboy in silver platform boots with a glorious opening line – "The cheque... Has bounced... Again" – before resolving into a tumbledown chorus worthy of XTC in their pomp.

We’re on relatively familiar ground with the oppressive OCD pop of first single Love My Name, but even that aims as much for the shaking ass as the engorged bile ducts. And Visions in Rags takes an infectious Vampire Weekend township beat and adds Beach Boys harmonies and a calypso chorus. It’s a hugely joyful thing.

Not that it’s all giddy fun: Storm Clouds, a scary coda to the perky Silver Tongue, revisits that elemental despair that made Current of the River such unsettling listening on the band’s last album, 2008’s Superabundance. The difference is that this time it’s not the last song on the album – the honour here goes to the strident, bullishly uplifting Glasshouse.

So, having bettered their own game, and established themselves (again) as a cut above their peers, does this mean a bright and shiny future for our tweedy heroes? They surely deserve the acclaim more than some, as they point out in Human Again – that rare thing: a Wombats-y song which does not make the listener acutely aware of the brevity of human existence – "weeds are for hoeing." Let’s hope these weeds get the hoes they deserve.

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