Up until this week just gone, life had several great mysteries that were still unsolved: why there wasn’t any cure for the summertime blues, why toast landed jam side down, and why Loveable Rogues, despite being easily the best band in a long while to get their springboard into the public consciousness via reality TV (the 2012 series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, where they came 4th behind the perpetually irritating, gyrating mongrel Pudsey), were still yet to release a debut album.
After all, on paper, Eddie, Sonny and Té (for it is they) should have been an instant smash. Formed of their own accord in 2010 while they were all still at college, this cheeky, chappy and indeed loveable band of bros from Essex and north London wowed the judges and public alike over with their self penned, conversational and witty tunes like “Love Sick” and “Honest”, two tracks that were the first in a long time by a band from such a show that didn’t make you want to inflict serious harm on anyone and were fine examples of pop done properly.
Indeed – signed up immediately by Simon Cowell to his SyCo label on finishing the show, they started making their album and touring the country – including a prestigeous support slot on labelmate and good friend Olly Murs’ last tour, which they promptly followed up with a debut top 10 hit “What a Night”. Alas, SyCo were too wrapped up in signing the intolerably bad Union J instead (whose own album has struggled to sell even 100,000 copies) to make anymore effort, prompting the boys to leave their deal and set up their own label, SuperDuper Records.
So this album has definitely been a long time coming – namely for reasons out of their control. Now it’s here though, it’s more than worth the wait and is a real surprise the whole way round. It is hard to explain just why that is the case, but I will try.
When the words ‘concept album’ are bandied about, it’s in the context of so called “serious” musicians making (or trying to make) some massive statement, politically more often than not, in album form. But “This & That” feels right to be calling a concept album, in that it’s the first pop album to brilliantly capture life as a late teen/early twentysomething living in modern Britain since Girls Aloud’s ubiquitous “Chemistry” album from 2005.
An enthralling mix of energy, relentlessness and joie-de-vivre, the album’s first three tracks traverse and explore blossoming first love in the selfie generation via soulful cod reggae (‘Sweet Lovin’), derision and rejection of the straitjacket of modern day, middle class aspiration on part rapped, part sung jangly indie pop (has-to-be-future-single ‘Talking Monkeys’) and the naughty, toilet humour, lads h’away antics of house parties gone wrong via the bastard child cross of Blink 182 and Madness (‘What a Night’).
Further into the album, the lyrics and experimenting with styles of music get all the more weird and wonderful: ‘Everything’s Better With You’ is twinkly dream pop recalling the more love struck moments in Lily Allen’s back catalogue. ‘This & That’, the album’s title track is a funky acoustic jam that recalls the hilarious joys of running a contraband school tuck shop in the post-Jamie Oliver turkey twizzler-gate shaming of the mid 00’s.
‘Nuthouse’ is a suitably named off the wall cut, recalling the ska vibes of The Specials at their eerie best, and ‘Front Story’ is a visceral, biting attack on exaggerated tabloid tattletales based around a more punked up version of the old ‘Bo Diddley’ riff utilised on George Michael’s ‘Faith’.
Their amiability and charm shines through on a record that takes no prisoners in sound or style. Even though they lack in the power and promotion of a major label, making away with the by-committee, ‘will this do’ executive codswallop looming over them has allowed Loveable Rogues to truly represent themselves as the pop band that they really are, whilst in turn becoming one of its most exciting in a very long time.
STREAM THESE: ‘Front Story’, ‘Talking Monkeys’, ‘Nuthouse’.