Album review: The Rumble Strips – Welcome to the Walk Alone

By on Monday, 22nd June 2009 at 5:08 pm
 

Rumble Strips - Welcome to The Walkalone (album cover)Devonshire-bred band, The Rumble Strips, primarily gained a named for themselves back in 2007 following the release of their debut album, ‘Girls and Weather’. Filled with soulful pop tinted with hints of reggae and ska, the band sounded like something along the lines of a modern day twist on Dexys Midnight Runners. Fun, uplifting and chirpy, The Rumble Strips were a refreshing and highly welcomed difference among all the cliché indie/nu-rave bands of the time. Hits included ‘Alarm Clock’, ‘Motorcycle’ and ‘Girls and Boys in Love’. However, for just over a year, the band have been in hiding alongside tabloid-favourite, Mark Ronson. The music producer mogul, revered by some, despised by others, was eager to get his hands on the band’s new material ever since the Strips’ frontman, Charlie Waller, sung with Ronson at the BBC Electric Proms back in 2007. The result? ‘Welcome to the Walk Alone’, the band’s finely-tuned second album set to be hit the shelves next month. TGTF, however, were lucky enough to grab a sneak preview of the new record this week.

One thing I initially noticed about the record was the fact the band have took on quite a more epic, orchestral sound. Opening track, ‘Welcome to Walk Alone’, kicks off like a dramatic Western movie, with dark brass and slick percussion leading nicely into Waller’s Brandon Flowers-esque vocals temptingly inviting us to “come right in, make yourself at home”. Sultry trumpets mid-way give this track a jazzy feel while the guitars amid the verses have an exotic psychedelic edge. The lovely ‘Daniel’, meanwhile, ultimately gives way to dramatic, Last Shadow Puppet-stylee instrumentation, while the stormy and brooding ‘Happy Hell’ is made all the more epic thanks to it’s striking strings.

From ‘Daniel’, we have ‘Douglas’, a sweetly, slower-paced retro pop number – just perfect for gently swinging petticoats to while at the dance-hall. Meanwhile ‘Raindrops’ is a similarly vintage sounding track, complete with jazzy-come-military percussion and a glorious brass led midsection. The fairytale-like ‘Dem Girls’ can only be described as audio-sunshine, while the speedy ‘London’ gallops directly into an explosive jolly ska-pop chorus which sees Waller repeatedly ask “Why can’t I love you in London?”.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s debut single, ‘Not the Only Person’, is perhaps the record’s top track. The song anxiously builds before detonating into a fireworks-of-a-chorus. Waller passionately sings out “You’re not the only person to get it wrong! It’s alright!” to the backing of spiky orchestral strings and excitable crashes upon the cymbals.

Limper tracks on the album, such as ‘Back Bone’ and ‘Sweet Heart Hooligan’ primarily go unnoticed due to the fact that they just, well, fail to lift off the ground. They miss those key hooks that the rest of the album possesses. Still, this is not to say they’re bad songs – quite the opposite. ‘Sweet Heart Hooligan’, for example, really allows you to appreciate Waller’s vocals thanks to the song’s simple, piano-based structure.

So while many artists’ may dread that ‘difficult second album’, The Rumble Strips have managed to combat the whole process quite brazenly. Indeed, ‘Welcome to the Walk Alone’ is a more than impressive turn-out. They’ve tweeked their sound a little, grown somewhat more epic (perhaps thanks to the Ronson), but all the while, have managed to maintain that key sense of happiness and fun that made The Rumble Strips so appealing to so many when they first came onto the scene a few years back.

The Rumble Strips‘ new album, Welcome to the Walk Alone is out on July 13th and is available to pre-order now.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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