Anthemic Indie Rock

It was almost a decade ago when a flurry of new bands all beginning with 'The' (Strokes, Hives, Libertines to name but a few) took Britain by storm, with their angular guitar-rock lighting inspirational fires inside their fans; now the new guard of 'The' bands (Kooks, Pigeon Detectives and of course, Race) have taken up the torch that their fore-bearers left burning. The Race's second album has little to offer in the terms of true innovation, the familiar quiet-loud-quiet song structures now relics of the 90's, here updated with a tight yet slightly histrionic production value. Nonetheless, their anthemic indie-rock shtick is definitely worth a listen if you need to fill the void before the new Arcade Fire album is released.

'Begin' introduces the album in a fairly innocuous fashion, with the band channelling Snow Patrol in every sense, their bloke-ishly sincere lyrics set to a casual distorted strum; unfortunately, the minute-long song is over before anything substantial can be derived from it. This segues neatly into 'I Get It Wrong', a fantastic pop song, complete with Editors-esque screaming guitars and a chorus that borrows heavily from Band of Horses' 'Weed Party'. Guitarist James Del Rio has clearly done his homework when it comes to creating epic effects, referencing everyone from Jonny Greenwood to The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Nick Zinner, to create an orchestral wall of sound that excuses the song's run-of-the-mill lyrics.

The aptly titled 'Rude Boy', contains all the swagger of The Charlatans' 'The Only One I Know' coupled with a laid-back groove evocative of The Stone Roses' 'Fools Gold', resulting in an effortlessly cool club-thumping anthem, deeply set in the genre of chav-chic. (Hard-Fi, take note.)
'Moorwood' is the longest song on the album and also the most indelible, flaunting the 'short and sweet' rule of the pop writers' songbook. Chiming guitars support the dual male/female vocals throughout the verse, before a sweeping chorus etches itself in the listeners' deep unconscious, surely to re-emerge with a Proustian rush years from now.

In a twist of irony, the band's effort to make every song into an anthem is actually counter-productive in creating a truly memorable album. Aside from the fairly pedestrian opener, there are few resting moments for the listener to pause and take breath; the album concludes with cymbals and reverb still ringing in ears unable to distinguish which hook was from which tune. From the church-rock organ that lends 'Killer' its eerily touching quality to the epic intimacy of 'See You Sunday', it is clear that The Race are thirsty drinkers from the Arcade Fire font; what they could also learn from Canada's rock royalty is that sometimes, (just sometimes) less is more, as 'Neon Bible's' title track so beautifully demonstrates.

The Race may be destined to finish runners-up in anthemic indie-rock, yet with all contestants producing such a high quality of music, it really is the taking part that counts.