Shabby Rogue - By Hook and by Crook

Richard Wink 10/02/2010

Rating: 3/5

Single releases can sometimes be completely misleading. Either they take you into a sludge pool of desperately arranged filler, or lead you into a garden of otherworldly confusion. The first single to come from By Hook and by Crook 'My Life As A Secret Agent' is not indicative of Shabby Rogue's core sound, by that I mean it sounds completely different to anything else on the album. Going back to mid-sixties Garage Rock, the track rumbles on a paranoid surf bassline, with the Carnaby Street army proudly marching on. It's like being taken back on a time machine, or perhaps it provides horrible flashbacks to terrible Austin Powers sequels.

See I'm lost by this statement. More so when the Celtic folk of 'Northern Lights' kicks in to open the album; the band seem to have used to power of the snappy, hook laden single to malevolently trick listeners into an MOR minefield. 'My Future With You' epitomises Sunday afternoon radio, the cymbals chime creating a polite ambience. What a genius ploy, see the single has you trapped to the chair, you're held captive by easy going Velcro.

I quite like the slow unravelling of different voices with contributions coming from Shabby Rogue's three main songwriters. 'Old Man' creaks along like a Hitchcockian villain about to plunge the dagger in the back of an esteemed portly gent; the melodies blurring, reminiscent of the days of yore when the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash would duel and joust over thick blunts and tepid moonshine.

'Every Light' and 'Chamber of Lights' continue to exhibit the band's classic influences; I guess this could be seen as a Q Magazine reader's wet dream, as a plethora of melodies and riffs are plundered from the dark ages of Dylan and the rest of those troubled bohemian troubadours. But I can't help but think what another few up tempo tracks might have done for this album, blending one or two more garage rock tunes in between these sweeping solidly composed slow burners.

For those seeking new, challenging, innovative, groundbreaking music, you can disregard Shabby Rogue. Though talented players they perhaps lack enough progression to receive widespread recognition. But for all you oldies (anyone over thirty five) out there, this might be the kind of thing that might go well with your early night glasses of Cava and Deal or No Deal repeats.