The Rifles - None The Wiser (Cooking Vinyl) 
The Rifles - None The Wiser

Release Date: 20th January 2014

I'm not a fan of guns on the whole. If we could at least all go back to swords and axes that would even things out a bit and make American High Schools a whole lot safer - seriously, have you ever tried to lift a broad sword, let alone wield one? The Rifles, however, are a different prospect however as their main weapon is bouncy, jaunty, indie-pop with a very English sensibility. Album opener 'Minute Mile' is a blend of Franz Ferdinand's attitude and Maximo Park's guitars although the vocals seem a little bit low in the mix for an opening statement of intent. 'Heebie Jeebies' is more in the vein of the Fratellis in that it's a step up from McFly but still a bit indie-lite for my liking. The rumbling drums that herald the beginning of 'Go Lucky' are a thing of beauty and the song that then unfolds is a quintessentially English indie tune pitched somewhere between the House Martins and the Libertines, no easy feat. Taking a more relaxed approach on 'All I Need', the Rifles do their best Kooks impression whilst forthcoming single 'You Win Some' is a more slick, Radio 2 friendly track that could see the band supporting James Morrison before the year is out.

I've just read back over that first paragraph and realise it sounds like I'm slating these guys which I didn't think I was. The problem, and 'Catch Her In the Rye' is a great example of this, is that a lot of these tunes fill that post-Britpop space which is already jam-packed with a whole host of perfectly good, mid-sized bands so I don't know where the Rifles really fit in. There's a country ballad twang to 'The Hardest Place To Find Me' which shows glimmers of something a bit different which is promising and 'Shoot From The Lip' has an 80s swagger about it that stands out - the plucked strings are perfectly understated. The lo-fi meets skiffle chug of 'Electric Eccentric' shows real imagination and ingenuity which is making me feel that this is perhaps an album of two halves. This suspicion is confirmed but the behemoth the closes the album that is 'Under And Over'. This final track features so many ideas and approaches that you wouldn't have expected when you heard the first couple of tracks which gives the listener the impression that they've been on a real journey of growth and development with the band. The Rifles are certainly ones to keep an eye on for the future (not a phrase I use lightly) as if they follow the exit trajectory of this album and ignore the first half then good things will surely come. Oh, and for a bonus point, they're one of few bands I have reviewed recently that have bothered with what used to be a staple - the hidden track. Made my day.

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Live Dates:

28th April - The Globe, Cardiff
29th April - The Phoenix, Exeter
30th April - The Brook, Southampton
1st May - Waterfront, Norwich
2nd May - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
3rd May - Brighton Racecourse Modfest, Brighton
4th May - The Ritz, Manchester
6th May - Oran Mor, Glasgow
8th May - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
9th May - Junction 2, Cambridge

10th May - The Assembly 2, Leamington