Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songs Of The Year: Young Knives - Turn Tail

The Young Knives were never the most likely cup winners from the British post-punk/new wave revival of the last few years. A trio of geeky tweed wearing public schoolboys, they lacked the obvious glamor of your Franz Ferdinands and Bloc Parties. Yet, as many of these same bands jumped the shark on their second or (more typically) third effort (Long Blondes, Bloc Party, Futureheads, Kaisers, etc), Young Knives turned in a second album this year thats's arguably stronger, and certainly more varied, than the debut.

One of the highlights off Superabundance, "Turn Tail" sees the band changing styles from sharp-edged, sardonic post-punk as superbly named bassist The House Of Lords pairs up with brother Henry Dartnell on the vocal and a string section is rolled into the studio. The effect is to soften the edges, particularly when the strings kick in with an uplift that belies the defeated, uncertain mood, best summed up by the chorus: "We're all slaves on this ship/This ship's sinking/We will not reach the shore/I will turn tail and run."

It's an unexpected moment when first discovered on the album, surrounded as it is by the more typical spiky guitars and sarky lyrics, but it shows some progression and growth from the band that many of their peers either lacked completely or substituted with gratuitous, half-baked experimentalism or (conversely) sellout commercial sheen (or 45 minutes worth of character-free dross - hello, Kaisers). Great song from a terrific album. They also cover "Stand & Deliver" by Adam & The Ants live, which is worth valuable bonus points.

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