Although London's THE BLUETONES seem to have become victims of the unwitten press law that finds publications closing ranks and collectively denouncing bands for daring to continue past their designated "use by" date, such vilification seems ludicrous based on the strength of most of the content here.
To be quite honest, this writer can't be bothered to discuss either marketplace aspirations or the Bluetones' 'Britpop' links, because "Luxembourg" is a smart, snappy album that deserves to be judged on its' own merits, regardless of its' creators past.
Laid down quickly at Wandsworth's Raezor Studios, it seems the band's only real brief was to get down to basics and to produce raw and catchy songs, which is what they've done - broadly speaking - as "Luxembourg'"s prevailing mood is one of ripping up the rule book and just going with whatever sounds the most full-on and bitching.
The recent double A-side "Fast Boy"/ "Liquid Lips" gives you a good insight into the method. Songs like the S&M-infuenced "You're No Fun Anymore", "Big Problem" and the impressive headrush of "Little Bear" continue in the same vein, being kickstarted by Adam Devlin's no-nonsense riffery and short, sharp, biting solos. Very new wave, but still recognisable as cool, confident Bluetones pop.
Brevity and pace are the watchwords. The Glam-my riffing and blaring harmonica of "I Love The City" introduce a witty, pollution-embracing diatribe from Mark Morriss that comes on like a belated antidote to Blur's "Get Out Of Cities," and is surely the best pro-conurbation anthem since the Talking Heads' "(Nothing But) Flowers." The stupidity of our supposed Western democracy is attacked cogently on "Code Blue", while the surprising keyboard textures of "Here It Comes Again" recall Sparks circa "No.1 In Heaven" - at least until the Ramones apparently ambush the band at the chorus. Unlikely as it sounds, it's one of the best things this writer has heard from The Bluetones.
Musically, the band turn in performances of some power and verve. The keyboard textures are subtle and have added an extra dimension, not least to songs like "Here It Comes Again" and the equally sublime "Never Going Nowhere." The only time it all sounds a bit incongruous is the closing "Turn It Up" where the loops and FX take precedent and sound rather too desperate. Not the ideal close to an otherwise nicely weighted album.
Nonetheless, "Luxembourg" is a brash, sprightly and unashamedly kicking album that's tailor-made for the heavy-duty live schedule The Bluetones are intent on undertaking. A substantial, rather than slight return, all told.