This Leeds/York have done pretty well for themselves with a sound heavily indebted to goth and the blustering globetrotters it spawned. As such, their début reminds me of that ball you pull out of a computer’s mouse, a smoothly indomitable dull grey rock. Club Smith sadly appear to be stuck in the same time warp that allows The Rupture’s ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ to soundtrack the new series of Misfits, again. They believe in an alternative reality where Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party are still seeping post-punk signifiers into chart rock, something which ended about five years ago.
Each track sets out for aggressive ambience, forever an oxymoron. With ‘How Soon Is Now?’ tremolo guitar grounding several tracks and some tastily raw bass, songs like ‘Mantra’ sound much much better than they are after all. There’s even a few pleasant guitar licks that never solidify into a tune or find a point, like John Squire’s ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ effects pedal with a hangover. Occasionally garage organs give add mild horror (‘No Friend Of Mine’) or ‘Lament’s gentle xylophone chills them out a bit. ‘In Arrears’ could be a Killers or Stereophonics song quite easily, a driving song through and through. The whole album is tenaciously stirring.
However, I’ve come to think of bands like Club Smith as necessary as the genre-spawners and any seminal group. Club Smith are professional exponents of all the best bits of the bands they love, repackaged for young ears. They will act as a enjoyable ‘gateway band’ for many of these ears, the radio-ready paraphrase of whole eras of pop history. They’re actually the kind of band, along with White Lies or Editors for instance, that will get novice music fans into classic post-punk acts and what flowed from them. Because we don’t all come into this world with a ‘Velvet Underground & Nico’ vinyl under one arm and ‘Unknown Pleasures’ under the other, they come with time. And it is contemporary bands like this that will be revolutionary to the uninitiated and derivative to every music hack worth a wank. So there.