‘I want to wake up with you in Wales again and watch that sun go down,’ are the words sung by Kiaran Crook, lead singer of the Sherlocks, to kick off this new album. They are lyrics that tidily sum up what is to come. By this, I do not mean that the album conjures up the idyllic warmth of a Welsh evening, but rather the bold originality of a Tinder profile. One would be forgiven for thinking that references to long walks on beaches or being a dog-lover were to follow. Now that certainly isn’t to say that it is an unpleasant album – I myself have always loved the beach and own two dogs who love it even more than I do – but the problem here is, to stretch this analogy to breaking-point, it’s the same old dog on the same old beach.
The opening is strong, though. Thanks to some sharp percussion and propulsive guitars, one is hooked from the off. ‘I want it all’ and ‘NYC (sing it loud)’ both boast a fiery momentum, while the huge choruses worm their way into the listeners’ ears after just a couple of renditions; so far, so good. In fact, this winning streak continues for a fair few songs. The third track, ‘Waiting,’ is a pretty little indie romp, while ‘Magic Man,’ quickens the pace just as the record is threatening to drag, with some fiercer production, a killer riff, and even a decent guitar solo to boot.
The rest of the songs are almost all equally pleasant; anthemic hooks, cheery guitar leads and ‘whoaaa, whoaaa, whoaaa’ bridges are stuffed into nearly every one of them. The problem is, this formula gets tired remarkably quickly, quite probably because it’s the same formula that’s been churned out by every British indie rock band since the mid-noughties. As the record drags on, it can’t help but become offensively inoffensive; we are left gagging for something different. The majority of the album would’ve been labelled derivative last decade, and from a band that sees themselves as the forerunners of a rock revival, it is ironic that they are perhaps the finest example of why the genre has grown stale as of late. Even their South-Yorkshire buddies, the Arctic Monkeys, a band they very clearly (perhaps too clearly) idolise, have managed to change things up lately.
A refreshingly relentless optimism though, established in the opener and persistent throughout the entire 40-minute run-time, saves the record, while nostalgic lyrics and enormous guitars ensure they’ll continue to be a festival mainstay over the next few years, for better or for worse. It is by no means a poor record, just one that has already been made multiple times under countless guises over the last couple of decades. 2/5.