The Rifles - None The Wiser (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE Rifles have always been one of Britain’s most likeable bands, whether bursting onto the scene with their mod influenced debut No Love Lost or coming of age in 2011 with the more sonically ambitious Freedom Run.
Their fourth album, None The Wiser could just be their best yet. Contrary to the title, this is packed with musical wisdom. And by that we mean they now have a firm grasp on their own sound and how they would like to experiment with it, broadening their musical palette this time to include – in their own words – elements of “Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, some Clash and as always – The Beatles”.
The result is a guitar album of hugely enjoyable quality. One that delivers on the original Mod sound, rock and roll and timeless indie pop of old, as well as orchestral pop and even West Coast folk rock.
And it’s in those more epic, layered sounds that this album really excels. That West Coast folk rock sound is brilliantly realised in You Win Some, which drops subtly psychedelic elements as well (particularly in the vocals). It’s a terrific record.
Similarly, All I Need blows you away with its toe-tapping breeziness, delivering some terrific harmonies and a genuinely feel-good vibe complete with harmonica undertows.
The classic rock sound currently being perfected by Jake Bugg is also evident here on the harmony laden but bittersweet The Hardest Place To (“another day slips by without a warning”… “I took the pages of my life and then I tore that book apart”), while Under And Over has a great anthemic vibe that is also chock full of rousing social commentary (“a man got me reaching for things I cannot reach”/“a man always wants more than he needs”). Yet just when you think you have the measure of it, the song drops a rollicking indie-pop chorus that The View would be proud of.
The Rifles are clearly having fun and succeed in paying neat homage to whoever they take aim at, while also honing their own sound in the process.
Minute Mile, for instance, runs amok amid its raucous guitars and pounding percussion, while Heebie Geebies is just a riot of energy (“I’m going to shake myself, jump up in the shower”) and Go Lucky smarly nods towards their fondness for The Jam.
But it’s a tribute to the overall quality of this album that there’s never a bad track – just good ones and then really great ones.
Download picks: You Win Some, All I Need, The Hardest Place To, Under And Over, Eclectic Eccentric