Paul Deacon 19/03/2006
The Rifles are never going to change my world but they appear to be getting some people all excited as the large crowd at the Astoria suggests, and the dubious ticket tout who reliably informed me that “everyone is here for the Rifles tonight mate”. What's more notable is the fact that they have built this repute purely on word of mouth basis and through sheer hard work and perseverance, and as tonight implies people are now starting to take notice and there is a general sense of excitement vibrating round the Astoria's walls.
Musically the Rifles are not going to challenge you, but then again they don't bother trying: their songs are short, sharp, snapshots of their take on British life, no fuss no gimmicks just simple tunes the masses can relate to, and to be fair you have to take it for what it is, and there, of course, is nothing wrong with that.
“Fat Cat” is a good example of what the Rifles can offer and maybe should write more tunes like it, it's appealing because they deviate from their customary set up with main man Joel Stoker losing his guitar and the drums take on a more menacing beat that drives the song throughout. It's a stinging attack on working life that blights most of our lives and sums it all up at the end with the line “the things you do for money”: how apt.
The singles are of course the stand out tunes, “Repeat Offender” ('you should come with a warning/you're embarrassing for all your friends') is a spiteful attack we can all associate with.
My personal favourite and for me the set highlight was the impressive “Peace and Quiet”. More tunes like this one, “Local Boy” and “Robin Hood” and you are looking at a serious alternative to those crazy youthful monkeys and the dearly departed Libertines. In their favour the Rifles clearly are more accomplished musicians than both of these bands, the guitar work is sublime and imaginative in places, and, they always look the part what with having a close affiliation with the current Mod scene and all that.
To be perfectly honest with the Rifles you either take it or leave it, judging by the crowd tonight jumping, singing, terrace style chanting, (sounds familiar) they are all indeed taking it in and loving every minute of it. Perhaps this could be the start of something important and relevant for them, and let's hope so because these boys really do deserve it.