On Burn The Empire, the West Lothian band have a message to deliver and they’re doing it with the conviction of a band that actually cares.
The Snuts left me confused. When their debut album W.L. arrived on the scene in an explosion of hype and a number-one chart position, I wanted to get it more than I did. It’s always great to watch a Scottish act break into the mainstream.
It was just how they did it that perplexed me. They didn’t seem sure of themselves. Their material seemed divided into filthy finger-nailed stompers like ‘All Your Friends’ to the Radio 2 listener's attraction of ‘Somebody Loves You.’
I felt they were trying too hard to please. That’s why I approached their follow-up Burn The Empire with the weight of caution testing heavy on my shoulders. Thankfully, any fears that it’s suffering from second album syndrome are blown out of the River Clyde with the opening song where the album name comes from.
This isn’t an ode to lying in a hotel bed in Japan, moaning about success and champagne and being on tour. Instead, it’s a call to arms to make a stand against the powers that be. And its kick-started with a quote from political heavyweight Tony Benn. It tees up the rest of the album well and sets the scene. Don’t let the politician and social themes put you off as they’re often delivered in an enthralling manner.
‘Zuckerpunch’ laments an easier and simpler time when we weren’t ruled by apps while ‘13’ details the struggles of teenagers nowadays growing up in poverty. They’ve matured in the short time since W.L. was unleashed. Jack Cochrane’s vocals haven’t been diminished by the bottles of Buckfast he’s often seen devouring on stage during gigs. ‘Yesterday’ finds the band in a gentle mood which he delivers in a stunning manner.
They’re still quite a difficult act to pin down. ‘Cosmic Electronica’ finds them turning up to a Halloween party masquerading as Kasabian. ‘Pigeons In New York’ is as daft as the title suggests, evoking the mischievous spirit of The View.
If you’ve still got reservations about The Snuts being nothing but statements and tenderness there’s still a raft of songs that’ll have venues bouncing when the tour comes along. ‘The Rodeo’ has the type of indie singalong chorus that you’ve heard a million times before but still sounds fresh. ‘Knuckles’ tells of a relationship with a feisty partner while album closer ‘Blah Blah Blah’ has another go at the government and the state of the country that they’ve left it in.
They got their record label to bring forward the release of this album so the fans knew it off by heart by the time they toured. It’s their second album in just over a year. And on their songs they’re often racing as fast as they can to get to the chorus.
They’re clearly a band on a hurry to get where they’re going. They’ve got a message to deliver and they’re doing it with the passion and conviction of a band that actually cares. In these crazy and uncertain times that’s what we need.