The Twang - Jewellery Quarter
A prestigious award early on in a band's career can be the kiss of death. Does it give the fans lofty expectations? Does it make the band over-confident and work less hard? Or is it sometimes too much too young?
The Twang were the recipients of the NME 2007 Philip Hall Radar Award - an award that shines a light on the brightest new bands, ones that are often barely out of the starting blocks. It's a risky strategy but I always admire the NME's enthusiasm and passion for new bands, the po-faced "heard it all before" attitude of some press doesn't align with my passion for music. I'd rather be getting exciting over a new seven inch than another box of re-discovered recordings from Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But with such an early punt not every winner is going to garner critical acclaim or commercial success.
I think the biggest impact upon these boys receiving such an award was that it filled their sails with love and gusto. Yet here we are on album number two and things don't look good from the outset. The first cut of the album was rejected by record label B-Unique and they were sent back to the studio to re-record it - a process that can't be good for morale. Recording when you are trying to please the label and stay in the game has never been a formula for success.
I listened again to Love It When I Feel Like This and boy do they sound happy on that album! It's not a perfect record but they sure sound pleased to be making it. On Jewellery Quarter they sound pretty fed up and that leeches into the bulk of the material. I'm going to single out 'Encouraging Sign' for sheer direness, a song even Jason Donovan would reject as a b-side. Its cringeworthy lyrics and children's TV-presenter style delivery make for a deeply unattractive package. Album closer 'Another Bus' isn't much better, reeking of that-will-have-to-do. No doubt the clock was ticking and the cleaners where hoovering up the studio around them waiting for them to get out of the door.
The tracks that sound like material from the first album are by far the strongest: 'May I Suggest' whilst not reaching euphoric heights of early tracks like 'Either Way' or 'Wide Awake' is a great song. 'Back Where We Started' has a Happy Mondays vibe and if they'd stopped recording it at two minutes thirty, would've been a good choice for the next single.
I can't help but feel this is a band with great potential put in a difficult position. Their goal is clearly survival rather than getting the party started. I hope this isn't the end of the road for them as with the right vibe they still have a lot to give.