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Voices of Animals & Men

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Album Review

The Young Knives' full-length debut cleans up and commercializes the punk revival sounds they explored on their mini-LP The Young Knives...Are Dead. Like so many of the new British rock bands of their time, the group display a heavy Gang of Four influence, and as might be expected for a major-label group of this ilk, famed Gang of Four leader Andrew Gill mans the production boards. But where Gill's group experimented with funk elements and basically invented a genre, the Young Knives dabble in so many styles and influences that they frequently come across like mimics of their more recent peers like the Futureheads, the Libertines, and the raging Mclusky. Worst of all is when frontman Henry Dartnall affects a falsetto reminiscent of the Darkness at their cheesiest. The Young Knives certainly show that they know their way around hooks and power chords and thus produce catchy, chart-friendly singles like the frequently out-of-tune Futureheads soundalike "The Decision," the Gang of Four-meets-the Darkness freakfest that is "Here Comes the Rumour Mill," and the Mclusky rip-off "She's Attracted To." "Loughborough Suicide," reminiscent of Barat/Doherty, is perhaps the strongest song here, bringing together the myriad influences and vocal tricks into a strong anthem that declares "I will never go down fighting." There's really not an original moment on Voices of Animals and Men; it's uneven in its sequencing, and more than a few tracks reek of filler, but thanks to Gill's production help, the dynamics are satisfying enough to almost make up for the youthful inexperience of the songwriting. A young audience helped the album's singles into the Top 40, but one can't help turning to thoughts of Kula Shaker, Razorlight, and other unhip bastions every time catchy, derivative, and purposely uncool bands release average-at-best major-label efforts like this at the tail end of revived genres.

Customer Reviews

Great start

What did Franz Ferdinand start? Every new British band now seems to need to reference them (and Gang of Four with a knowing nod), behind their spiky guitars and Blur-y rhythms. The thing is, The Young Knives may just pull it off. Despite hailing from Ashby de la Zouch (how un-rock is that?), and deliberately affecting a more-nerdy-than-Franz-Ferdinand appearance, there is quite a lot of great music on this little disc. Despite starting out all generic-2006 Brit pop, with Part Timer and Weekends and Bleak Days, the album really kicks into a perfect gear with In The Pink (having already hinted it could, with The Decision), a swinging Libertines-like song that's as catchy as anything on Radio 1. From there, it maintains its ups and downs: to be honest, if a computer threw the Futureheads, Blur and Supergrass into a mash-up, it wouldn't be a million miles away (although the guitar work throughout is excellent). The Young Knives may be just arch enough to be the 'next big thing', but Voices of Animals and Men is an inconsistent disc. There is, however, an awful lot to build on.

I will never go down fighting

There is a £7.99 version of this on iTunes if you bother looking. But if you like the singles get hold of the CD with bonus DVD which has all their videos - new versions and originals. Henry's beard looks particularly fetching in the original Weekends and Bleak Days (Hot Summer) video.

Screaming at your mum...

The best album of 2006 by the best band in Britain! The Knives bring accountant-geek-chic sensibility to punky, witty and above all catchy tunes that get in your head and stay there. This is what it's like to be British in 2006. Catch them live if you can, too.

Biography

Formed: Oxford, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Hailing from Oxford, England, post-punk revivalists the Young Knives feature Henry Dartnall (vocals/guitar), Oliver Askew (drums), and Thomas Dartnall (bass) (aka House of Lords). The three initially started out playing Ned's Atomic Dustbin songs while living in their hometown of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, but a move to Oxford in 2002 gave the Young Knives their big break. An appearance at the Truck Festival led to the band issuing The Young Knives...Are Dead mini-album for Shifty Disco in...
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Voices of Animals & Men, The Young Knives
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