Straight Lines - Persistence In This Game
Back in the seventies Max Boyce always used to claim that somewhere in Wales there was a factory production line endlessly churning out unbeatable fly-halves. Given the fall off in the success of the Welsh team throughout the following years one can safely assume that it was quickly closed down as the iron fist of Thatcher came crashing down upon the valleys; but listen close and you can hear the green shoots of recovery, only it isn’t fly halves that are being produced but identikit rock bands. Step forward Lost Prophets, Attack Attack, Kids in Glass Houses, Tiger Please and now Straight Lines. It’s therefore tempting to be dismissive but after two or three spins this album begins to reveal some subtle secrets which lift it up and away from the chasing pack, placing it on a pedestal currently occupied by the aforementioned Tiger Please. Sure Persistence in The Game does the expected anthemic thing but check out ‘Runaway Now’ for some thrilling Police like off beat reggae inflections which even extend to Sting’s trademark “ooh weee ooh” vocal gymnastics. Better still there’s ‘All My Friends Have Joined The Army’ which bears some intricate guitar work which could easily be mistaken for latter day Manics. The degree of quality is all the more remarkable when you consider that the boys made the whole album in the bassist’s garage (ooh a garage – there’s posh isn’t it ? – Ed’s Mam); a smart move which leaves a guitar sounding like a guitar and not the de rigeur over processed audio wallpaper. If there’s any criticism to be levelled then maybe there could have been a little judicious editing to cut the album down to a more direct ten tracks but, when faced with the intense emotional power of closing track ‘Set Me on Fire and Feed Me To The Wolves’, such complaints pale into insignificance. Remarkable.