Tuesday, 6 August 2013

NARCS - ALBUM REVIEW

Narcs - Two Birds, One Stone Later (Clue Records) 
NARCS - Two Birds, One Stone Later

Release Date: 2nd September 2013

Stop what you're doing. Put it down. Look at me. Are you paying attention? Sure? Good. What I am about to tell you is very important and might, just might, change your life: NARCS have an album out and it is very, very good. One the face of it, these are 4 ordinary lads from Leeds with guitars and drums but it doesn't take long to realise that NARCS have got something a bit special, something a little different. Just to ensure they get a Parental Guidance Advisory sticker, the album starts with the drunken and expletive ridden rantings of on old man before 'Souvenir' comes crashing through your living room wall like an out of control car full of laughing, menacing young men ready to shake you awake. These guys have the politicised desperation of early Manic Street Preachers but with heavier riffs and more swagger which is no bad way to be in my book. 'Sandchild' follows with the pace continuing unrelentingly and singer Wilko sneering "that's the wrong way to die" to anyone who'll listen. Debut single '19' is up next, a song which I already love musically, but on learning that the oh-so-confident lyrics relate to the number of Prime Ministers that have come from one school (Eton) I have decided that I might just have to have NARCS' babies. These guys mix that early lyrical ingenuity that the Arctic Monkeys showed but skilfully combine it with much more rock'n'roll bravado and tunes with hooks so big you could hang a rack of meat from them.

"People, don't adjust your pedestal heights", so starts the brooding 'Creatures' which would be my choice of next single owing to its rumbling menace and shout along chorus that would have throngs of sweaty students around the country in reveries this autumn given half a chance. Seemingly, 'Coast to Coast' is the first let up in the aggression from NARCS as it has a slightly more laid back vibe but the crashing drums and screaming guitar keep the tempo high enough that the album doesn't lose any momentum. And then comes 'Collisions'. The disorientating, feedback heavy opening brings back memories of first hearing Rage Against The Machine and not knowing whether to cry, dance, laugh or just listen. This is a huge, rangy song that moves from walls of noise and distortion to nothing but the brilliantly uncomfortable sound of Wilko's vocals against a back drop of absolute silence; every throat tearing roar and spit laden pronouncement there for everyone to hear. I often have arguments with people that music shouldn't be there just to make you feel good, it can make you feel a huge range of emotions and I'm glad to say NARCS are great supporters of this theory and, even more pleasingly, they've got the lyrics to back that up.

NARCS didn't think much of their lounge makeover
'Karaoke' is perhaps the most Arctic Monkeys track as NARCS turn the cross-hairs on the X-Factor culture that seems to spread throughout music, putting anyone with a notion of talent in front of a public firing squad to be judged by a self appointed and self obsessed jury of nobodies peers. 'High Commissioner' is arguably the weakest track on the album but it would be hard for any band to maintain such a high level of quality for ten songs, never mind a band on their first album. Penultimate track, 'Irregular Reader', initially sees a more tender side of NARCS emerge before they smash it to pieces and rise triumphant with a chest beating, finger pointing song, declaring "I'm worth my weight in gold". As the song fades out with a few cheeky bass flicks, the final song, the eight minute behemoth of 'Tall Grass' looms on the horizon and the gentle guitars and near whispered vocals begin what is destined to be an emotional journey. As the tension and mood builds like dark clouds gathering on the edge of town, Wilko's vocals get increasingly desperate, the cymbals splash louder, the bass rumbles and then all is calm again as the neo-classical guitar signals the beginning of the end. Then all hell breaks loose and you can almost hear the determination and sweat being wrought from every note and every beat these four young lads are playing. Then, just to flex their musical muscles, the guys break in to a Doors-esque jam before building to a second crescendo that has Queens Of The Stoneage written all over it and by this stage there are people all over the stage, girls have taken their tops off and boys are crying because they don't know what to feel anymore. And then it's done. You will feel like you've been chewed up and spat out but you will also want to go back to 'Souvenirs' and start the whole experience again. NARCS are a little bit like a rollercoaster with a political agenda and some serious twists but one that you will go straight to the back of the queue to ride again and again and again. You can get back to whatever it was you were doing now - unless it was watching the X Factor in which case I'll be sending four angry Leeds lads round to 'have a word'.


Live Dates:

9th August - Holbeck WMC, Holbeck
16th August - The Hop, Wakefield
31st August - Packhorse, Leeds (w/Allusondrugs) - ALBUM LAUNCH
21st September - Vintage Rock Bar, Doncaster
26th September - Doc Browns, Middlesbrough
28th September - Barca Live, Manchester
26th October - Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds (part of OXJAM)
12th November - The Keys (Mixtape), Middlesbrough

17th November - Blues Bar, Harrogate

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