Sound: Despite it's billing, "Music For The People", the second album from Coventry 3-piece The Enemy, didn't quite work for everyone. The more epic, stadium-pointed change of sound deterred some fans, and the copycat nature of some tunes and lack of street-social relevance in comparison to the acclaimed debut record from the band led to a fair number of critics taking a dim view. "Streets In The Sky", having taken or not taken this reaction into account, see's the band head back towards the sound of first LP "We'll Live And Die In These Towns", simplistic in structure and thrashier in style. With The Bronx guitarist Joby Ford handling production duties, the bands sound is even more aggressive this time around, a much rawer style and lower tuning instantly apparent from the off.
The opening one-two see's the band at full throttle - "Gimme The Sign" and "Bigger Cages, Longer Chains" are instant, mosh-inducing anthems, thrashing chords in the low end, ascending octaves and spitting, call-to-arms melodies coming together to get the record off to a truly emphatic start. From here on in the band edge back towards the more everyday common sentiments of "We'll Live And Die In These Towns". Musically, whilst the pace remains relentless, the slightly more measured melodies and presence of familiar "WLADITT" keyboard sounds relieves the thudding start, and "Saturday", "1-2-3-4" and "Like A Dancer" will please fans seeking continuation within but within the rawer framework here. When the record does take a slight breather, "This Is Real" and "2 Kids" bring in the most relatability and in a similar way to "This Song" slowly build to a emphatic finish. The band slightly lose steam towards the climax of the album, "It's A Race" and "Make A Man" proving to be not much more than an exercise in finding but not improving enough on the sound of The Jam. Ultimately the sound is very consistent throughout, "Get Up And Dance" being the only moment which could have possibly featured on "Music For The People", the almost U2-esque guitar intro and steady pace carrying more of a stadium essence. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically this record is almost a fusion of the bands previous 2 LP's, socially aware and no doubt shaped by the economical and political state of the country at this time. "Gimme The Sign", "Bigger Cages, Longer Chains", "It's A Race" and "Make A Man" provide calls-to-arms about overcoming the barriers laid out by difficult circumstances. Elsewhere the subject matter carries over from the bands early days, be it maximising the weekend on "Saturday", the struggles of chasing a dream on "Like A Dancer" or the regrets and consequences of an unambitious life on "2 Kids". "This Is Real" stands out for me as the best moment lyrically, a realistic expression of life for many today, the poignant refrain of "and I hope to god we find some money soon" obvious but summing up the absolute financial struggle of now. Whilst effective and very real words, the authenticity is ultimately a little skewed in as much as the band themselves are three albums in and not in the "early days" anymore, the sentiments accurate and more progressed but not true of where the band are themselves. // 7
Overall Impression: "Streets In The Sky" see's The Enemy return to where they started but bring more aggression and bile to the mix. Whilst no doubt effective and extremely comfortable in executing the style, some fans may ultimately by dismayed by the lack of ambition. The fact the band have done enough to recapture the fire lit by their debut record will please the majority of the bands fans though, weather they can get away with continuation again on the next record will be interesting. // 7