The Singles - Start Again
Will Metcalfe 17/12/2007
Buddy Holly has a lot to answer for. Being the first rock n roller not to resemble Elvis he opened the door for the not so macho man to step into the public eye. A wiry frame and hilariously uncool appearance have given his image an enduring power that noticeable to this day. Perhaps the lazy comparison would be Rivers Cuomo of Weezer- geeky glasses, nerdy lyrics, nasal vocals, what more do you need as testimony? Whilst Rivers may be amongst the higher profile stars indebted to Mr. Holly, The Singles owe more than their bespectacled aesthetics to old Bud.
'Start Again' is an emotional rock record, not in the dark hair and lip piercing sense-more the soundtrack of a school nerd who finally gets to dance with the girl of his dreams before realising the jocks put her up to it kind of way. Musically the Buddy Holly and Weezer references may well be all you need. However, whilst opener 'I Want You Back Now' may sound like Cuomo's boys the record is draped in the naïve pop sentiments that one may associate with late 1950s rock music.
'The Most Beautiful Girl' is perhaps the best embodiment of this here, a clean guitar placed delicately over a bass part so reminiscent of 1950s teen movies you could swear they've swiped it, and they probably have. In another nod to the fifties you may well notice the strong presence of the two minute pop song on this record; this is strictly a good thing. When The Singles do break this format the result is a noticeably weakened effort (see 'I Want You Back Now'). All this nostalgia is definitely unhealthy, yet you can't help loving this record, it is undoubtedly guilty of rehashing the past but it does it in such a way that makes it hard to dislike. The real question is, do you call it fifties revivalism or just twee?
Album highlight 'Summer' holds the answer-it's twee, in all it's bespectacled glory. Combining Byrds-esque harmonies with a new pop energy, thoughts of special girls and special boys will soon fill your head and bam; you're in love and quite rightly too. Title track 'Start Again' is perhaps more of a nod to the music of the beat groups than rock n roll but it pulls and spins until you feel sick and you don't want it to end
These slabs of poppy goodness may be brief but there is certainly gentleness to them perhaps sounding like the Buzzcocks should given their age-they have a subtlety beyond their years and are capable of warming even the coldest of hearts. The only real problem I have with this album is the fact I could never have the face to right songs so honest or fragile myself. There is little of life affirming substance here, but that's probably not why you'd pick it up in the first place, if you want the sound of a summer day anytime of year this is what you need-innocence without childishness, influence without a contrived effort. As close to perfect as this stuff gets.