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Speedway - Save Yourself


Review: Jack Foley

THE buzz surrounding Scottish pop-rockers, Speedway, would seem to be borne out of the band’s amazing path to success.

According to reports, they got their act together after hearing a bootleg of The Strokes’ Hard to Explain crossed with Christina Aguilera’s Genie in a Bottle (which is great fun), which they promptly decided to record themselves.

The single made the top ten and Speedway were hailed as an exciting new prospect; a tag which became stronger following the success of the follow-up single, Can’t Turn Back, which went in at number 12, and which seemed to hint at a grittier sort of pop-rock to Texas.

Now comes the album and, perhaps, the band’s biggest test yet. And it is something of a hit-and-miss affair.

While there’s no doubting the quality of the singles, thus far, the initial feeling is one of disappointment once you come to the end of the long-player.

The mix or rock and alternative-influenced pop would seem to be an enticing one, particularly given the quality of the guitars, and the gutsy vocals of Jill Jackson throughout, but there is something missing; a spark, perhaps, to make it especially distinctive.

As a result, Speedway provoke comparisons with everyone from Texas to Blondie (and even Busted in some sections), without really coming up with much that is too much their own.

Is it, therefore, a coincidence that their biggest hit so far is essentially a cover version; albeit a cheeky one?

The album is, however, a consistently lively affair, buoyed by some accomplished production values and some genuinely good guitar, especially during opening track, Juggernaut, and All That Matters.

Please is another strong effort, even though it could easily pass as a Kosheen record, while title track, Save Yourself, is a better example of the album at its catchiest.

But too much of the album sounds overly familiar, and seldom rises above the norm. Tracks seem to merge too easily, so that it fades into the background, and from the memory, too fast.

This is particularly evident during Seven Nights, In & Out, which drift towards the pop/rock territory more usually reserved for someone like Natalie Imbruglia. It's listenable, but it doesn't really float your boat.

Perhaps it is this desire to pander to the mainstream, and to stay the right side of pop, which hinders the album's progress - but Speedway bear all the hallmarks of a band who may be holding something in reserve; a desire to rock out repressed by the knowledge that success may not be quite so guaranteed.

Ever the optimist, though, this could yet turn out to be the start of something promising, even though the niggling doubts remain.

It’s accomplished, occasionally catchy, but ultimately a little too routine.

Track listing:
1. Juggernaut
2. In & Out
3. Can't Turn Back
4. Overdrive
5. Talk To Me
6. Please
7. Seven Nights
8. Thinking About You Lately
9. Save Yourself
10. Walk On By
11. Last Surprise
12. All That Matters
13. Always Here
14. Genie In A Bottle

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