Written 24th February 2014
Reverend and the Makers – Thirty Two
The Band: Jon McClure (lead vocals/guitar), Ed Cosens (guitars/bass/backing vocals), Joe Carnall (bass) Jimmy Welsh (drums), Laura McClure (vocals/keyboards)
This week sees the release of Sheffield’s own Reverend and the Makers fourth album ‘Thirty Two’, their follow-up to 2012’s '@Reverend_Makers' (reviewed in Flynndie Reviews #28), which was a triumphant success for the band despite little mainstream radio airplay or television appearances and in my opinion a great-sounding, dance and Indie-pop record in itself. While that third record’s title showed an obvious nod to social media site Twitter, their latest album title ‘Thirty Two’ is perhaps a hint at The Reverend; Jon McClure’s coming of age.
However, before we dive straight into the review of this album, I think it’s well worth a mention of how the band have gone about repaying fans that have invested in the new record via Pledge Music, with Jon and Ed actually taking the time out to tour round the country in a camper van and play intimate acoustic gigs in fan’s homes. Yes this band actually come round to your house and play in your front-room! I think this was a brilliant personal touch and a great gesture to repay the band’s die-hard fans known as the RevArmy and you can check out some video links of the small, fun and rowdy performances (one of which even included a marriage proposal! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L7EJwL5AFM) at the end of this review.
1. Detonator2. I Spy
3. The Devil’s Radio
5. Happy Song
6. Different Trains
8. Old Enough (To Know Better)
9. Play Me
10. The Only One
11. Your Girl
‘Detonator’ launches the Reverend’s latest offering and with its sparkling synths and bass-heavy rhythm it makes no secret of the very much dance-vibe this album smacks of throughout while Jon is in full-flow with sexual innuendos “You’re no agitator/More a spectator/I’ll take ya somewhere/We can hit your detonator”. With more industrial synths pumping away at it, ‘I Spy’ continues the early up-tempo melody of the LP with a chilled Ibiza Club rhythm coursing through its veins and some great verses “Tell me what are we doing here?/You control all my strings like a puppeteer/I’m a ship lost at sea but I’m yours to steer”. This is a track that will sound great in the summer sun. ‘The Devil’s Radio’ has a much more familiar Reverend and the Makers sound about it, fast and fun with a delightfully underlying Ska rhythm to it that sees the band much more at the roots of their sound from debut album ‘The State of Things’ and is a very much an instant track on the album, it’s lyrics suggesting that gossip is indeed ‘The Devil’s Radio’.
With brass-sounding synths, trumpets and steel-drums ‘Nostalgia’ has very much a jolly Reggae and Caribbean flavor about it and features a great, reflective opening line “We all love a little nostalgia/It isn’t what it used to be/Tamagochi, Trolls and Crocodile Dundee”. Yes Crocodile Dundee himself gets name checked on the latest Makers record! It’s a light-hearted track that bounces and flows and is likely to be a live favourite with its sing-a-long “La, la-la-la-la's” throughout. ‘Happy Song’ is the slower, ballad track of the record and reminded me of ‘Sex with the Ex’ again from the band’s debut record, with a similar sound and pacing as that track and after the fast tempo of the opening four tracks this track sits well at this stage of the record. ‘Different Trains’ picks up the pace again, another large-sounding upbeat track and sees vocal duties here shared between bassist Joe and Jon with each line through the verses “I invented penicillin while I found a plaster/I’ve got 50 caps, I’ve just got the one” before it’s chorus “And now the hare and the tortoise roll into town/There’s no need to worry, you don’t have to hurry/We’re two different trains”. ‘Time’ has very electronic buzz about it and is another synth-driven track with a strong catchy bridge midway through it “Don’t ya wanna go outside/In the sunshine sometimes” and is another confidently assured Reverend and the Makers style track.
With another fast and urgent rhythm ‘Old Enough (To Know Better)’ is another solid track on the record with guitars and keyboards jamming along frantically as one while Jon belt’s out the track-title over the chorus “She says I‘mmmmm/Old enough to know better”, while ‘Play Me’ sees a sudden halt in pace on the record, featuring a piano ballad backed with lovely Beatles-esque string-sections and generally being an all-round charmer of a track. ‘The Only One’ was previously the first single lifted off the album and is large sounding pure guitar-driven Indie-pop with a polished chorus “I want you to make me feel like I’m the only one/The only one” being perfect for radio airplay so get it out there! Closing track ‘Your Girl’ was the first preview we got of the new Makers album, initially being made available as a download for those that pre-ordered the album from the Pledge Music site and what a closing track we have here. With an industrialist, scuzzy, dirty rhythm and melody to it that smacks of the Prodigy from their ‘Fat of the Land’ days, this is a strong, buzzing closing track that doesn’t pull any punches “Your girl’s got you wrapped around her finger/And your girl is the reason that you don’t ring us…We’ve turned to calling you the pilot light/Because you won’t be going out tonight” and in my opinion this track sees the album finish on a real high.
So overall ‘Thirty Two’ seems like a fluid, natural progression from Reverend and the Makers’ previous album '@Reverend_Makers' and much like its predecessor has a positive banging dance-vibe at its core. For me in particular ‘Detonator’, ‘The Devil’s Radio’, ‘Different Trains’ and ‘The Only One’ are all solid tracks and closer ‘Your Girl’ is a “proper banger!” In particular, and as has always been the case with Reverend and the Makers’ records, Jon’s lyrics are intelligent and diverse almost somewhat poetic and again finds him on good form here. For me the album doesn’t quite reach the heights of their debut record ‘The State of Things’ but this is still a good record and certainly a strong follow-up to '@Reverend_Makers' while tracks like ‘The Devil’s Radio’ and ‘The Only One’ would sound great with some radio airplay so get behind them. Throw in some nice, gentle tracks (‘Happy Song’, ‘Play Me’), some underlying Ska (‘The Devil’s Radio’) and a Caribbean-Reggae influenced sound (‘Nostalgia’) and the record starts to show more range with a few more listens and I’m going award this one a solid 7 Detonators out of 10 and would recommend to go and check this album out!
Track 10 ‘The Only One’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAj5Plq4r9o
Track 11 ‘Your Girl’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgJcilSxXbo
Reverend and the Makers Newcastle house-gig #1 of #32HouseGigshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh1ropH_VLY
Reverend and the Makers Whitehaven house-gig #5 of #32HouseGigshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7uqZKezdes
‘Miss Brown’ acoustic private house-gighttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEC3CPO5_D8