The Rifles - No Love Lost
Review by Jack Foley
THE Rifles have come along way since they released their first single, Peace & Quiet on their own Blow Up label out of their own front rooms in Walthamstow.
But rather like Hard-Fi, another band that had the persistence and determination to make it on their own, they’re now an emerging force in music, courtesy of their punky but radio-friendly sound.
Fronted by the distinct, gutsy vocals of Joel Stoker, the band specialise in spunky guitar riffs and no-nonense songwriting that blares out of the stereo at breakneck pace. Fortunately, listeners will want to get caught in the whirlwind.
For while The Rifles certainly inhabit that post-punk world, there’s enough diversity on No Love Lost to suggest that they’re not merely riding the wave, but creating their own one as well.
Spearheaded by the recent single, She’s Got Standards (which was described by the NME as “the Specials scrapping with The Strokes”), the album proceeds to deliver 11 songs that vary between the fairly generic and the impressively take-notice.
Forthcoming single, Local Boy is an extremely energetic piece of social commentary that’s kicked off by a rapid drum beat and a guitar style that’s reminiscent of early Smiths mixed with latter day Graham Coxon.
One Night Stand, meanwhile, contains some of the strongest guitar hooks on the record – riffs that are both deeply melodic and more than a little Strokes-orientated. Stoker’s vocal style is a little more restrained as well, making this a really strong listen and one of several highlights. It’s a trick that’s repeated on Peace & Quiet, another hard-rocking gem that boasts an anthemic chorus chant of “all I want is a little peace and quiet”. Try not singing along with it.
What really elevates the album above the norm for this kind of thing are tracks like Spend A Lifetime, one of two slower tracks on the album which transcend the post-punk label. Acoustically focused, the song is arguably the stand-out record on the album and succeeds in showcasing a sensitive side that’s not always evident on some of their rowdier numbers.
She’s The Only One also keeps things nicely mid-tempo, emerging as the sweet sound of Motown with a Merseyside lilt. Broudie’s influence on the production comes to the fore with a skanking tremolo guitar, tambourines and sunshine backing vocals that are reminiscent of Beach Boys’ harmonies – all wrapped around romantic lyrics such as “I lose myself when she’s away/don’t sleep at night and sit about all day”.
The album is produced by Ian Broudie, of The Zutons and Subways fame, and his mercurial touch is evident here. It ensures that it doesn’t just become the latest punk-based offering from another emerging band, but rather a record that transcends any boundaries to fire The Rifles to the forefront of the movement. It hits the target impressively.