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The Needles - In Search Of The Needles

The Needles, In Search of The Needles

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Let’s get straight the point… The Needles are an Aberdeen-based outfit that specialise in insurgent, pop-flecked punk tunes that are designed to hook you immediately and leave you utterly flabergasted.

How successful this will be depends on where you stand on the whole pop-punk movement at the moment – are you tired of angular guitars yet? If not, then this is certainly the album for you.

The Needles are Dave Dixon (guitar/lead vocals), Paul Curtiss (bass), Richey Wolfe (keyboards/vocals) and Johnny Wolfe (drums/vocals) and they first came together at the end of the ‘90s as a means to survive the trials and tribulations of school together.

At first, they were driven by a love of Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana but, by their own admission, their sound was too complicated.

“Britpop meant nothing to us because we were detached from it,” adds Dixon. “It seemed like a London thing so we turned to the simplicity of the earliest rock ‘n’ roll for inspiration. There was something quite sinister about Gene Vincent but tender too.

“There was an ambiguity there. Raw, exciting rock ‘n’ roll made utter sense to us.”

This ambiguity is certainly abundant on In Search Of The Needles. Kicking off with a building synth, a scream and then some formulaic angular guitar, opening track Let You Down is a riot of energy – ballsy, punky and not that memorable.

But then come third track Girl I Used To Know the album reigns itself in a little and the melodies become stronger – albeit resolutely punk-infused.

The track is a real footstomper, complete with chant-along chorus, that marks The Needles out as something other than a run-of-the-mill punk band.

Devil At Your Door builds on this success – it’s still fast but the guitar work is much better and more complex, while Dixon’s vocals really come into their own. It’s equally as capable of getting you on your feet and dancing.

Dianne takes a backward step but recent single Summer Girls is constructed around some genuinely affecting guitar riffs and emerges triumphantly as a kick-ass summer anthem – the sort of Aberdeen equivalent to the Beach Boys’ California Girls, only spikier.

They venture properly into sunshine territory with the West Coast harmonies of Poison Ivy and its retro glow, making it one of the definite highlights.

While Up Against The Wall boasts some crunching guitar riffs, excellent vocal melodies and a really upbeat style.

It’s during the middle section of the album that The Needles really come into their own and the debut album ticks all the right boxes.

Unfortunately, they can’t resist the temptation to revert back to punchy pop-punk efforts and this handicaps their progress somewhat, making them sound quite ordinary.

When they’re keeping things mixed up and eclectic, however, The Needles really do have something to offer. As such, it’s well worth injecting yourself with a dose of this album.

Track listing:

  1. Let You Down
  2. Under The City
  3. Girl I Used To Know
  4. Devil At Your Door
  5. Dianne
  6. Sumer Girls
  7. Poison Ivy
  8. Up Against The Wall
  9. Out Of My System
  10. Delivery Day
  11. Dead Or Alive
  12. In The Morning