Sound — 8
The sound on this album is fairly different from their early outings on Employment (their debut album). The focus still seems to be around the indie/punk scene, which is obvious in most tracks, but some points in the album show the band experimenting with various techniques that could have been plucked straight out of the 60's (the keyboards in 'Half the Truth' and 'Tomato in the Rain') and the 80's (just listening to the keyboards on half of the tracks would show what I meant). The keyboards, as I'm sure you'd find out, play the most up-front role on the album. This is most apparent on 'Good Days, Bad Days' and 'You Want History', I think. On the other hand, away from the styles, the guitar and bass lines are pretty similar to everything else they've released. Simple, catchy riffs are littered all over the place, and not just on the guitar. The two seem to be balanced when it comes to taking the musical front, with the bass having riffs that hook you easily on songs like 'Never Miss a Beat'. The guitar then takes control on others - 'Spanish Metal' and 'Always Happens Like That' (with the piano in tow), for example. The only real criticism about the guitar is the solo in 'Always Happens Like That', which is a little hard on the ears (maybe it's meant to sound that way, I don't know). Since I've covered the rest, the percussion/drums are pretty well played too. The drumming plays a very prominent role in almost all of the songs, particularly on 'Addicted to Drugs' etc. One of the best tracks for the sound is the final track 'Remember You're a Girl', which sounds heavily John Lennon/The Beatles influenced, as I'm sure many will agree. It's a little uncertain as to whether some fans will be overjoyed about the sound of some of the tracks on here, but on the whole, it's a nice listen.
Lyrics — 7
As with a lot of 'Chief's songs, the lyrics aren't entirely inspiring or hard-hitting ('What did you learn today? I learnt nothing. What did you do today? I did nothing.' - you get the picture), though they do fit the requirements of the music given. The high points of the vocals come mainly in the melodies, harmonies and backing vocals. A lot of the melodies show signs of influences from the new-romantics era, where other tracks also show 70's punk methods. The backing vocals and harmonies, mainly by drummer Nick Hodgson, are cleverly harmonised. Even when not harmonising, they fit the songs very appropriately - the backing vocals in 'You Want History' fit very well, though he doesn't sing any legible words for the most of it. Guest vocalists on the album add a nice edge to it too, with Lily Allen (Always Happens Like That) and Sway (Half the Truth) making appearances.
Overall Impression — 7
This album won't live up to the success of the previous outings 'Employment' and 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob', that's a given. Some of the songs don't sound as full as their previous work. The playing and singing etc. is pretty good, and the production (by now-legendary Amy Winehouse producer, Mark Ronson) is pretty flawless. Overall, it's worth a listen if you're into the band, but it might not interest some listeners as much.