Good Shoes - No Hope No Future
Alex Nelson 20/01/2010
The debut release from the four Morden bound whippersnappers that make up Good Shoes, 2007's Think Before You Speak, consisted of finely crafted indie floor fillers, all angular guitars bouncing and weaving their way over one another coupled with wry witticisms on the life of the suburban 20-something. Well, long-time fans of the band will be relieved to hear that Rhys Jones and company have not shifted to some far-flung musical direction, and No Hope, No Future is more of the same really. They may, however, be disappointed to hear that the band's 2010 effort fails to capture the enthusiasm and excited abandon of their earlier works.
The record starts off promisingly enough, The Way My Heart Beats announcing its arrival with four quick bursts from the band. These then give way to a light descending guitar line, offering an almost comforting familiarity with the band's previous output. The song is full of neat little pauses, the track hanging in the air for a second before crashing back down in a flurry of heavier guitars, the urgency of Rhys' lyrics of the verses contrasting with the lackadaisical guitar strums and mewling of the choruses, all adding up to create one of a handful of genuinely great tracks off the album. I saw these guys debuting new material at 2009's Offset Festival, and this was a song that really stuck in the memory.
By differentiation, second track Everything You Do brings the straight out of the starting blocks pace of the opener to an almost grinding halt. It's plodding tempo, slight reggae tinge and attempt and minimal guitar moodiness feel really out of place this early on into a record, and perhaps placing it further down the track listing would've helped out its chances a bit. As it stands though, the song is ultimately a boorish letdown.
I Know picks the pace back up a bit, standard Good Shoes fare really, instances of Arctic Monkeys-esque guitar lines supplementing the vocals, which still feel disinterested in their delivery. An obvious vocal refrain of 'the more I want/the less I need it' bring us on to Under Control, the first single release from the album and a track that really stands out as an album highlight. An intro of Foals-y guitars, finger picking their way in suitably complicated fashion all over each other, leads to some admittedly catchy vocals from Jones, albeit facile sexually charged ones. The song doesn't really develop or go anyway, but in this rare instance it is not a problem, as subtle changes in arrangement keep the listener interested, and there is a distinct although technically slight difference between the song's intro and its closing bars.
Do You Remember? sounds like a song left on the cutting room floor after sessions for Think Before You Speak, a song left behind perhaps because of its similarity to a track off that first album, Sophia. Completely Good Shoes in its jangly guitars and indie-ish hooks. Our Loving Mother In A Pink Diamond comes on at first like the intro from Sex Pistol's Pretty Vacant, before falling into a jaded verse of scaling guitars and weary vocals.
A Thousand Miles An Hour and And The She Walks Away provide some brief relief in their disjointed riffs (the latter's intro is brilliantly all over the place) and the former's gang vocals and pounding snares lending to some much needed exigency to the album. But it's album closer City By The Sea, a melancholy ditty of pretty guitars and sardonic lyrics, that proves to be another album highlight. Simple chord patterns held up by Steve Leach's sweet second guitar that chimes beneath Rhys Jones as he seemingly struggles to get his words out, a tale of lost love and despair, a theme that has graced Good Shoes track listings abundantly over the years.
In summary then, while not being anything that could even closely be described as a departure from their debut album, Good Shoes' second lacks the fun and frenzy of their 2007 release. A small handful of truly good songs stop this record from being a completely bad effort, and established fans will probably lap this up all the same. As a slab of jangly indie nostalgia circa 2007 it's a not too bad account, but it's probably better to stick with the genuine toe tapping goodness of Think Before You Speak.