GOODBOOKS – Control (Parlophone)

I got this album purely on the strength of the reviews and the general good press that the band had generated, having not managed to hear much by them before purchase. Openers ‘Beautiful To Watch’ and ‘The Illness’ blast out of the speakers in a joyfully raucous indie sort of way, and things are looking good from the start. ‘Passchendaelle’ is a different sort of song altogether, a more measured piece about World War One, with a mournful trumpet solo contrasting with the upbeat feel of this lyrically downbeat song. ‘The Curse Of Saul’ is another song about war, this time the Iraq conflict, comparing and contrasting Bush and Blair’s handling of the situation with King Saul of Israel’s similar problems. ‘Alice’ lightens the pace after the previous couple of heavy pieces, with a Franz Ferdinand-style pop/rocker. The thudding sequencer and electronics of ‘Good Life Salesman’ should dump this song firmly in the 80’s, but the cracking tune helps it rise above the backing, with a seldom heard guitar solo being the icing on the cake. ‘Violent Man Lovesong’ is the first ballad of the album, and is no disappointment, showing the more reflective side of the band. ‘The Last Day’ is the song that will hook a lot of people, lulling you with the slow-burning verse before the guitar introduces the chorus with a stunning riff that just makes the song. ‘Walk With Me’ has beautiful opening harmonies, and then morphs into another spikey Franz-like rocker, while ‘Leni’ is a delicate love song which doesn’t quite work for me, and sounds just a bit out of place on the album. ‘Turn It Back’ is a return to form, though, being another quirky jerky rocker, and the record ends with ‘Start/Stop’ – perhaps a little low-key as an album closer, not finishing on the high that they could have. The obligatory hidden track sneaks out after a five minute wait, but as it is just a short instrumental it is hardly worth waiting for. Other than that this is a fine debut by a band who could easily make it in the charts given the right breaks, but give the impression that they would be equally as happy producing good quality indie rock to an audience that appreciates it.