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The Rascals - Rascalize

The Rascals, Rascalize

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

LIVERPOOL’S latest bright hopes The Rascals unleash their debut album in the form of Rascalize and aim to explore the darker and twisted realities behind the everyday.

“There’s a dark element to what we do, because we’re not happy to skate the surface,” explains guitarist Miles Kane. “We like to delve below, picking up on things that are already there, though you might not spot them straightaway.It’s using your head. Not exaggerating things, but just taking a different perspective on the people we meet and the circumstances they’re in to find a deeper meaning.

“We never sit down and think we need to write a tune about something, it’s what’s going around us that inspires, it’s just natural. A lot of the tunes are about finding the drama behind words and situations.”

Certainly, the influences are pretty varied, whether it’s the band’s own favourite 007 babe in Bond Girl, or the break-up of a relationship, as Stockings To Suit. But while the songwriting is certainly spiky and occasionally frivolous, the album as a whole isn’t always successful.

The band are better when keeping things tight and harmonious, such as former single Freakbeat Phantom, or I’d Be Lying To You. They’re less successful when rocking out, often getting carried away and descending into feedback-induced noise.

Vocally, too, they struggle to distance themselves from a few easy comparisons, whether it’s the bolshy approach of the Arctic Monkeys, or – looking back further – early Inspiral Carpets.

But when they get things right, they can be quite exciting. Bond Girl, like its name suggests, is full of spunky energy courtesy of its deliberately psychotic 50’s sound and frantic guitar solos, while Fear Invicted Into The Perfect Stranger is a suitably foreboding slow builder that eventually unleashes a meaty guitar solo and some shouted vocals, before stripping things back down for some more haunting psychedelia.

I’d Be Lying To You, meanwhile, finds the guitars at their most muted, teasing listeners with some playful licks, while Miles laments about a possible missed opportunity with a woman. It eventually builds to another rousing indie-rock anthem, but it works better for taking its time about things.

Freakbeat Phantom, on the other hand, employs some more muted bass, and some strong harmonies, to establish a distincive groove that should make it an enduring dancefloor favourite.

How Do I End This?, meanwhile, is an echoed song, vocally, that’s wracked with doubt – but which drops some thunderous guitar riffs every now and again to keep your sense heightened. It’s another great track to draw the album to a close.

Less successful, meanwhile, are the full-on rockers, with Stockings To Suit and Does Your Husband Know That You’re On The Run being prime examples of the band displaying their youth and just letting go. When set against the context of what they can do, they seem a little naive and listeners may well find themselves pining for the more layered material, which combines both the rough and the smooth to worthwhile effect.

Rascalize is, therefore, an accomplished debut offering that generally impresses whilst laying down a sizeable marker for the future.

Download picks: Rascalize, Bond Girl, I’d Be Lying To You, Freakbeat Phantom, How Do I End This?, I’ll Give You Sympathy

Track listing:

  1. Rascalize
  2. Out of dreams
  3. Bond girl
  4. The glorified collector
  5. Fear invicted into the perfect stranger
  6. Does your husband know you are on the run
  7. I’d be lying to you
  8. Freakbeat phantom
  9. People watching
  10. Stockings to suit
  11. How do I end this?
  12. I’ll give you sympathy