Innercity Pirates - 'Cutting Noses, Chasing Tales' (UK Release: 28 Feb '11)
One of my favourite bands of the early-to-mid-noughties was My Red Cell, a Welsh quartet who sounded a bit like a mix way between The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and The White Stripes. The V2 label put out their debut LP, '13 In My 31', which may well get the Buried Treasures treatment at some point on this blog - it was reasonably well received but was under promoted and sold only a handful of copies.
I'm pretty sure the band split not too long after, leaving frontman Russell Toomey and drummer Phil Myles to found Innercity Pirates, along with a couple of other musicians. Only Toomey remains from that original line up, having been joined by new musicians and relocating to London. They've been gigging considerably and some six years from their birth, the Innercity Pirates debut album is finally out.
Unfortunately, its a debut album that, for me, lives in the shadow of '13 In My 31'. Toomey was the main songwriter on that album (writing 31 "love songs" before selecting 13 for the album) as he is here but his songwriting skills seem to have stalled. In particular, his lyricism seems to have suffered, becoming more crude and less witty than in previous years.
'Cutting Noses, Chasing Tales' does admittedly start off in thrilling fashion with the hyperactive former single 'Seen It All Before'. But then it starts to go wrong. Track two is entitled 'She's A Bastard', and with lyrics like "all I wanted was a bitch, I never expected a bastard like this" is hardly poetic. Cringeworthy lyrics appear across the album, the chief offender being 'Love's Over' - "write a little letter to yourself saying there's plenty more fish in the sea/and if you find a little fish, won't you go and give her one for me?"
MP3 DOWNLOAD: INNERCITY PIRATES - Seen It All Before by Sainted PR
However, the majority of tracks actually start off in a promising fashion. The intros showcase engaging riffs and hooks before going off in a disappointing, rudimentary direction. Some tracks like 'Seen It All Before' and 'Bang Bang' demonstrate that Innercity Pirates can put it all together but these moments are few and far between. Even the album's closing track and one of its finest points, the piano-laden 'As Long As You Like It', is scuppered by its lyrics.
One thing that Innercity Pirates do have going for them is that their sound is somewhat unique - Toomey's vocal style and raw lyrics give a certain punk edge to the songs, which often contrasts the "rock" riffs used. Aside from on a couple of the more dancier songs, from the early days of the band, which may have been better left off the album.
The more interesting musical moments on 'Cutting Noses, Chasing Tales' are overshadowed by the brash lyricism, although some will be enamoured with the punk spirit embodied by the album. I sadly wasn't.
Having had the pleasure of meeting Toomey a couple of times in the past, it's a real shame that I didn't enjoy 'Cutting Noses, Chasing Tales' in the way I had hoped. I'll end on a positive note though, as Innercity Pirates are definitely worth catching live.
Stream the album in full and purchase at Bandcamp.