January indie review: Yard Act, The Wombats, Miles Kane, Fontaines D.C. & more

A look at the best albums and singles released from The Sherlocks, Bloc Party, White Lies, The Smile and more.


After taking a month off in December to reflect on the year that had been, we're back with the first indie review edition of 2022.


The music has come thick and fast over the past month with a host of big indie releases to get the year started. Afraid you've missed anything? Here's a look at the best indie album and single releases.


 

Albums


Fix Yourself, Not the World by The Wombats



Over this 40 minute album, The Wombats prove, again, that they’re far more than the "landfill indie" tag they're often associated with. The tunes are just as catchy and dancefloor-friendly as they were a decade and a half ago, though sounding less rough and ready and more polished. It may also be more diverse, yet not enough to alienate fans of their early work who enjoy their accessibility.


August single ‘If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You’ revealed a familiar indie-pop anthem and, as you sang along to the repeated refrains of the title, you noticed the desperate/clingy tendencies of the song’s protagonist. ‘Everything I Love Is Going To Die’ took the contrast between pop anthem and bleak reality to another level, carried by a delightfully funky bassline.


Opener ‘Flip Me Upside Down’ is a punchy and intriguing start to proceedings, sonically ‘This Car Drives All By Itself’ sees the disco-punk influence of LCD Soundsystem meeting the driving inspiration of 'Star Guitar' by The Chemical Brothers, whilst ‘Work Is Easy, Life Is Hard’ is another highlight for its irresistible 90s Madchester vibes.


Not without its flaws, the big hooks mixed with the sonic experimentation ensure things rarely get too stale on Fix Yourself, Not The World. A really enjoyable listen from an underappreciated noughties band.


You can read my full thoughts on the record by visiting my review: The Wombats: Noughties indie dancefloor heroes deliver on their fifth studio album.


Rating - 8/10


Best three tracks: This Car Drives All By Itself, If You Ever Leave I'm Coming With You, Everything I Love Is Going To Die

 

World I Understand by The Sherlocks



The Sherlocks third album was recorded in the Rockfield studio in Wales, a venue famous for being where bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses and Queen produced their best work. Whilst they're nowhere near the level of those bands, World I Understand is a brilliant record full of enough big hooks, guitar anthems, and universal lyrical themes of heartbreak and hope. It’ll please the established mainstream indie audience, oh and there’s enough ‘oohs’ and ‘woahs’ across the album to demand a singalong (definite plus points in my book!).


Yes, of course, the tunes can be fairly formulaic and the lyrics on the simple side at times, but World I Understand is a heap of fun. It rights the wrongs of their first two albums and should provide them with a seat at the top table of British bands. They’ve finally reached their potential at the third time of asking, lets just hope they haven't missed the boat of mainstream success.


You can read my full thoughts on the record in my review: The Sherlocks: Third album has South Yorkshire indie anthem makers finally reach their potential.


Rating: 8.5/10


Best three tracks - World I Understand, Sorry, Slip Road


 


Change The Show by Miles Kane



There’s more to Miles Kane than meets the eye. Over the years he’s been in The Rascals, duetted with Lana Del Ray, been a member of The Jaded Hearts Club and teamed up with Alex Turner for The Last Shadow Puppets. It’s easy to forget he’s creative in his own right. And that’s why his latest album Change The Show serves as a perfect reminder of his skills.


Early album highlight ‘Nothings Ever Gonna Be Good Enough’ sums it up perfectly. He teams up with Corrine Bailey Rae, in one of those songs you’ll fall in love with somebody to. There’s a touch of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Elton John on ‘See Ya When I See Ya.’ Kane then stays in the seventies as he flicks his next record to ‘Brown Sugar’ era Rolling Stones for the stomp along ‘Never Get Tires Of Dancing.’ With ‘Tell Me What You’re Felling’ you hope and wonder he can keep up the mood and the quality.


The albums title track owes a massive debut to ‘Young Americans’ with its sleazy intro and a saxophone chasing it but Kane’s vocals for it perfectly. And the whole thing plays out with ‘Adios ta-ra ta-ra’ which manages to mix the soul and rock elements of the whole proceedings in a mesmerising combination. Change The Show does just that. He flips between genres with ease and reminds you that he’s more than just someone who pops up on other peoples material. He’s clearly got enough of his own to entertain us. (words by Neil Renton)


You can read more about the album on Neil Renton's review: Miles Kane entertains on 60s-inspired 'Change the Show'.


Rating - 8/10


Best three tracks: Change The Show, Nothings Ever Gonna Be Good Enough, Don't Let It Get You Down


 

The Overload by Yard Act



Leeds post-punk band Yard Act have just released their debut album and it feels like the definition of a grower. After being obsessed with their 2021 single 'Fixer Upper', a song sung from the perspective of a small-minded English bigot called Graham, the rest of the album initially underwhelmed.


A few listens later and it began to make a bit more sense. Whilst there's perhaps a too overfamiliar feel throughout which seriously grates at first, the groove-filled guitars and beats eventually work in its favour and you soon begin to appreciate the tales of the characters within it.


Yard Act are a name to keep your eye on. The album finished number 2 in the UK Official Albums Chart (Behind Olly Alexander...) and they made history by becoming the fastest-selling debut album by a band on vinyl this century. Very much one for fans of The Fall and, most recently, Sleaford Mods and shame.


Rating: 8/10


Best Three Tracks: The Overload, Land of the Blind, Pour Another


 

Best songs


'Jackie Down The Line' by Fontaines D.C.



Returning to announce third album Skinty Fia would be released in April, the Dublin post-punk poets also gifted us with new single 'Jackie Down the Line'.


With a sense of brooding throughout and 90s alternative nostalgia, Neil Renton described the track in his review as "an underlying sense of dread to events as it burns like a lit fuse and you’re worried it’s going to go off at any moment...singer Grian Chatten himself summed it up with the word "doom" and you get completely where he’s coming from."


It's been on repeat A LOT this month.

 

'The Girls Are Fighting' by Bloc Party



As a big fan of Bloc Party's early work (2004's Silent Alarm and 2007's A Weekend In The City in particular), I'm still excited to see what they can produce a decade and a half later.


The London-based band, who have changed form since those days, dropped 'The Girls Are Fighting' at the end of January and it's another that's got us excited for sixth album. Alpha Games (due for release 29 April). It's by far darker and moodier than 'Traps' and has them back to their best.

 

'Am I Really Going To Die' by White Lies



Earlier this month, West London 80s inspired, gloom rockers White Lies released the excellent and typically titled 'Am I Really Going To Die' ahead of the release of As I Try Not To Fall Apart on 18 February. Their music always has a certain cinematic quality to it and it can't be just me that notices a slight Franz Ferdinand influence...

 

'You Will Never Work In Television Again' by The Smile



Absolutely loved this from the off when I heard it earlier in the month. Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood's new side project may be delaying the main event of a new Radiohead album but I can't wait to hear more. Thom's voice hasn't felt this raw and intense in years and the music follows suit.

 

'Say It' by NewDad



Having spent a good deal of last year gushing over Galway fourpiece NewDad and their debut EP Waves, they popped up again with the release of 'Say It'. It feels lighter and more positive than before, yet just as demanding of a repeat. New EP Banshee is coming in February and we can't wait to hear it.

 

'Hard Drive Gold' by alt-J



With new album The Dream set for release on 11 February, alt-J dropped 'Hard Drive Gold' earlier this month. The bass line here is delicious and it's the most impactful single they've released in quite some time.

 

'Satisfy You' by The Heavy North



I can't help but crank the volume up to the latest single by The Heavy North. The Liverpool blues/garage rock band's debut album Electric Soul Machine is set for release in March/April and, judging by their new single, should be a lot of fun.

 

Favourites


For my favourite new album, I'll go for The Wombats new one Fix Yourself, Not The World. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it was a lot of fun and I kept going back to it time and again.


As for the best new single, it has to be Fontaines D.C.'s 'Jackie Down The Line'. The boys keep bettering themselves with every release!

 

Did you agree or disagree with any of the above? Feel free to agree or berate me @BFloodlights.


Want to be kept in the loop with new, regularly updated indie tunes? Check out the 2022 Blinded by the Floodlights indie recommendations playlist. All the tracks mentioned above feature.