Sound — 8
The artists formerly known as Bridges (vocalist/guitarist Tom Clarke, sticksman Liam Watts, Andy Hopkins on bass) hail from Coventry, where they once won BBC's Coventry & Warwickshire's Band of the Month. Impressive stuff, but not many would have foreseen back then the dizzying pop heights the band would soon achieve; namely a slew of pop savvy tunes ("It's Not OK"; "Away From Here"; "40 Days & 40 Nights"), a deal with legendary Stiff imprint (home to Elvis Costello and Ian Dury), and now a triumphant debut album. We'll Live and Die in These Towns foams with the same youthful vitality that has informed The Enemy's singles to date, and showcases their key influences: The Stones, The Jam, Oasis among them. The album starts off with the blistering "Aggro," which melds heavy bass riffs and drums with an Oasis-style sing-a-long chorus. Tracks like the chugging "Had Enough" boasts an added catchiness with it's doo-wop style backing vocals, while the title track could be considered as something of a Jam tribute. The band veer towards the mediocre with "You're Not Alone" and "Technodanceaphobic," but the stronger material easily overshadows the fillers, making this an accomplished debut.
Lyrics — 9
If anyone was at Glastonbury and saw The Enemy they'll understand the true greatness of You're Not Alone. That song enough is enough to make this one of the best albums of the year, if not decade, as people have been saying, I know it's the best rock/indie song I've ever personally heard. But hearing it live, in the pouring rain, as part of a massive crowd, was just an incredible experience, you got such a feeling of pulling together with everyone around you, a sense of spirit, and that's what 'We'll Live and Die' is all about. It's a social statement, yes but more importantly, The Enemy are one of the most exciting bands in ages. This time it's true! Away From Here and Had Enough are fantastic songs, You're Not Alone shows that they really could be the 'new Oasis' - although why bands always get labelled as the 'new' someone else I don't know. Maybe that's why people complain about the music industry having gone downhill nowadays because we never get a chance to appreciate new music, as it's always viewed as a re-interpreted version of something else. It's Not OK is another brilliant song. The title track at times is literally Going Underground by The Jam, there's one bit in particular where I start singing 'The public gets what the public wants' to The Enemy's song. But it's by no means a poor imitation of a great band. The Enemy combine elements of Oasis, The Jam, today's best indie bands, and add something very special, their songs are actually exciting, something to rave about, and they mean something.
Overall Impression — 9
Popular music goes in cycles, and just as the Clash in 1977 and the Manic Street Preachers in 1990 brought attention to various social issues, so the Enemy are bringing attention to various social issues in 2007. In these lacklustre, apathetic times, that makes them a very important and valuable band, and their assessment of modern Britain is not a particularly pretty one, being rife with unemployment, drugs, apathy and the boredom which comes with nine to five. From the rousing opener 'Aggro', to the infectious sing along chorus of 'Had Enough', The Enemy prove that they have the social conscience of the Manics, plus the gritty working-class, no-nonsense attitude of Oasis. That's not to say this album lacks sensitivity, in fact, it also has rather a lot of that too especially on 'We'll live and die in these towns', which contains beautiful trumpets, like something out of a Hovis advert, as well as the same astute, poetic observation of 'That's Entertainment' by The Jam. Sensitivity is also rife on the sweet, hopeful closing track 'Happy Birthday Jane' as unassumingly innocent and beautiful a song as I have heard in a long time.