Saturday, 15 August 2009

Reverend and The Makers - A French Kiss In The Chaos

Reverend and The Makers seem to be one of those bands that everyone loves to hate. Despite the commercial success of debut album "The State of Things" the band are still consistently getting bad press. Most of this has nothing to do with their music and is, in fact, due to singer Jon "Reverend" McClure's outspoken and opinionated ways. "A French Kiss In The Chaos" gives Jon a chance to transfer his opinions into his music and as a result we're left with a politically charged second album.

The album starts off in the strongest way possible with the psychedelic sounding "Silence Is Talking". Built around a sample of War's "Low Rider" it's a triumphant attempt at creating what should have been a summer anthem. Of course this isn't just a catchy dance tune, the lyrics are a clear dig at British culture, condemning the fact it's near impossible to make a political statement without getting derided.

The rest of the album has a lot to live up to but Reverend and co. aren't up for dropping their standards. Songs such as "Hidden Persuaders" and the high tempo-ed "No Wood Just Trees" continue the trend of cleverly disguising political messages amongst memorable melodies. The album falters slightly at "Professor Pickles" but despite being a drop in quality from the rest of the album, this track is still better than what most indie bands can manage. Things quickly turn brilliant again with the movingly simplistic yet delightful "Long Long Time". This demonstrates Jon's sensitive side and gives him a chance to show off just how much the band have matured since their debut album.

Unlike The State of Things, which included collaborations with Alex Turner amongst others, almost all of the tracks on A French Kiss In The Chaos are written entirely by the band themselves. The only notable exception is "No Soap In A Dirty War" which was co-written with Backhanded Compliment's front man and former Milburn guitarist Tom Rowley. Ironically Rowley's now a member of Reverend and The Makers, taking the place of Tom Jarvis on guitar. And it's fair to say if Jon and Tom continue writing in this fashion then the next Reverend and The Makers album may be even better than this one! For me this track is the clear highlight of the album, taking everything that's good about the band and putting it into one glorious song. Starting off simply with just an acoustic guitar and Jon’s vocals the track accumulates to a sublime multi vocalist and multi instrumental chant of ''I don't wanna die in the same hole I was born/ I don't wanna get married in the same church as you all'', a line anyone that's ever had ambition in life can relate to.

Compared to the grandness of the track before it “People Shapers/Manifesto” is almost understated. It takes a while to get used to the sudden change in tone from “No Soap In A Dirty War” but this scathing attack on the BNP is another noteworthy number.

All great albums must have a memorable closing track and that’s precisely what “Hard Time For Dreamers” is. As a matter of fact it very nearly hits the dizzy heights that “No Soap In A Dirty War" managed. It's quiet emotional intensity reiterates the fact that, despite supporting Oasis, Reverend and The Makers aren't just another lad rock band and do have something different to offer if given a chance.

I urge people to listen to A French Kiss In The Chaos with an open mind and not allow any bad reviews or Jon's reputation get in the way of the fact that this is a captivating and frequently beautiful album.

Download: No Soap In A Dirty War, Silence Is Talking, Hard Time For Dreamers, People Shapers/Manifesto

Gemma Barnes

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