Secret Rivals - Start Fires

Owain Paciuszko 09/01/2011

Rating: 3/5

Exuberant pop-punk twee EP from Oxford quartet kicks off with the lovely, bittersweet charmer It Would Be Colder Here Without You, it's all skippy guitar riffs, joyfully thumped drums and romantic synths; the boy/girl vocals lending sparky shouting and Blondie-like sneers respectively. Slow Learner feels like Los Campesinos! going a bit alt-country, throwing in some Bloc Party-like jabbing guitars punctuating the barked choruses.

Closing track Prone To Explosions, whilst still jam-packed with buoyant guitars ruffling feathers energetically, strikes a more poignant note lyrically, with the refrain; 'It breaks our hearts to see her try so hard...' In all it's got the somewhat ramshackle indie aesthetic of Sleeper, married to a contemporary twee angst (twangst) vigour that keeps the songs lively and playful, but overall they lack enough either musical or emotional variety to make them distinct enough from one another to really shine. As an EP this works nicely, and is a pretty pleasant and diverting listen, but for future releases a bit more experimentation would be welcome.