Luke Turner & John Doran at the Quietus are two of the best editors I've ever worked for: my Enemy review for them was way way way too long and Luke did a great job cutting the shit and keeping the flow (you can read the version on the Quietus here). These are just what the post-title says, offcuts and notes that didn't make the cut (thank fuck, but what else are blogs for other than putting stuff that won't sit anywhere else?).
OK, first a review for the Enemy fans. Hi guys. No, don’t come any closer, I don’t want your . . . . particles in my breathing space, no I won’t shake hands thanks I’ve just showered. OK, ready? Oh you'll fkn love it mate. It's quality. It's class. It's mint, both kinds, spear and pepper and it will provide a TOP soundtrack to a HENCH night out, a QUALITY night out that's pure CLASS and totally FOOKIN (why do you speak like that? People from Manchester don’t actually speak like that y’know?) MINT. Five stars. Enemy album of the year. See boy? See Enemy album? See boy? Enemy album? Shiny object, see boy? FETCH. . .
. . .( I blame Weller for a lot, for that fatal reformulation of 'mod' as not about sharpness but shabbiness, not being about chasing down the hottest black music but about shoring up the deadest white music, the prizing of authenticity and roots as a way of masking the pastuerisation & timid thievery going on. Fuck these tricks, I'm a real mod, a modernist, an English listener to black America, I love blatant thievery, not this due-paying bollocks. These Parka'd Man-U-Scholes-shirt-wearing cocks of the walk are just cocks who can barely walk, so broken and bowed are their gaits by a lifetime's absorption of rock'n'roll lies. OASIS GIVES YOU RICKETS.) . . .
. . . (Oh, and the next Cov band – or in the case of the Enemy, Kenilworth/Leamington/Ballsall Common band depending on who you believe - to continually cite The Specials as an influence really need to think about what they're missing, about those things that made the Specials great, about how they actually share fuck all with the Specials bar a postcode. The likes of the Enemy and the pack of equally shite-sighted Cov bands who bleat about Two-Tone as if they share its spirit need to shut the fuck up and realise exactly how visionary the Specials were and how much that unique vision eclipses and still renders-irrelevant the undanceable muso-pootling and posturing that seems to now be most Covband's birthright. The Specials, The Orchids, Delia Derbyshire – true avatars of this city of pop. In comparison, The Enemy and their ilk stink way too much of treacle town, of Bedworth like their hero Docherty, or even worse, Nuneaton) . . .
. . . Clarke is living proof of the theory that your voice suits your face, suspect that this is why The Enemy are, in a very real sense, unlistenable . . .
. . . Bigger Cages (Longer Chains)” is so proud of its semi-literate, half-witted lyrics you start cracking your fingers and hear just how much they've actually LOST since they were Bridges. The fills taking lumpen to some new entirely graceless new level of lumpeness, the grinding guitars beneath pitifully polite, everything with an eye on the big stage and therefore utterly uninvolving as listening experience. ‘Streets In The Sky’ straight away reveals itself as an album designed simply to 'get you ready' for the tour, the true money maker, the only chance these charmless chumps might get of securing the short-term future earnings they're in this for. It’s stadium-rock sure, but it permanently puts you in row-Z, squinting to see what the fuss is about, looking at the price on your ticket and wondering what in the name of all that is holy you were thinking of. Clap your hands. Sing along. It won’t fill the growing void ‘Streets In The Sky’ puts inside you, or allay those dyspeptic retches bringing tears to your eyes. But it might make you forget you shelled out for this shite. I envy you the disposability of your income . . .
The only thing going on 'creatively' behind 'Streets In The Sky' is an attempt simply to remind us that this brand The Enemy, exists, are on sale, have a new barcode ready for a new season. Of course, all bands do this, but the good ones manage to mask it - throughout ‘Streets In The Sky’ the Enemy prove themselves not canny enough lyrically, or interesting enough musically, to distract you from the mediocre marketing their music embodies. 'Saturday', with it's punchably weak chorus and strange outlandish ideas about Feeder somehow being the zenith of Britrock intensity, isn't really a song. It has no life, only craft - the linear organisation of carefully considered tweakings of The Enemy's entirely un-unique selling points. It comes across not as something you want to listen to again, merely a montage of Enemy-like moments, an advert, the chosen chunk of Enemy bizness whose video they hope will get play listed and be out there barking for the cause (good luck with that guys, last time I checked it’s not really working is it?). That’s not just my cynicism – sometimes music can be so empty of rub, bereft of substance, the nakedness of its entirely commercial ambition is all that comes across. In their attempt to avoid artifice, be solid, a band, The Enemy actually emerge as way more two-dimensional than all that ‘rubbish chart music’ they and their fans so snottily deride. The Enemy crave depth, have none, and unfortunately don't have the looks to get away with being so superficial. So the love of disciples is surely all that is in the Enemy's future, ‘Streets In The Sky’ will make no new converts . . .
. . . ( I blame the Gallaghers for even more. For starting that idea that facsimile of finer moments by finer bands can be enough so long as you seal it with 'attitude', with frontmen willing to spout utterly conservative viewpoints, reassuring-enough viewpoints about how shit chart-music is, how hip-hop doesn’t belong at festivals, to never alienate their audience, delivered arrogantly enough to be called 'outspoken'. Beyond Green Day's necrophilia, beyond Radiohead's spawning of a generation of corduroy choirboys, Oasis have been the most damaging band in the last two decades of British pop. Fuck 'em and their fans, and the bands those fans formed, forever.) . . .
. . . .they miss, unsurprisingly since their God Noel was a roadie and unlike Lemmy shoulda fkn stayed one, is that music really isn't merely about what you play, or 'ability' or 'passion'. Arse about tit, The Enemy learned how to play ages ago, as Bridges, as pure facsimile, then were forced to think about whether they had anything to say, came up empty and have been vaguely getting away with that emptiness ever since thanks to the massive critical sleepiness of the mainstream media and the similarly-hollow manoeuvres of their peers and heroes. The pop industry, like the football industry, knows that if it blithely spews venal lying rot about understanding fans ‘intensity’ and ‘love of music’ they’ll be able to exploit that obsessiveness in ever-more profitable ways – similarly the Enemy have the business-plan worked out like a motherfucker but nothing else, and so it all starts getting unpicked, falling apart, exposed. That’s why ‘Streets In The Sky’, no matter what efforts have been put in, arrives so half-arsed into your day, so rushed, so incomplete and dissatisfying. Kids, especially when they hear exactly how lame and pedestrian and hidebound the likes of ‘1-2-3-4’ and ‘It’s A Race’ are, will call this shit out eventually and drop kick these fuckers off the map. Like I say, a little bit of pity, but not much. Not much at all when these mediocre fucks are taking time away from the bands who can truly save guitar pop, bands who speak to my Cov-bredren way more than these strength-in-depth use-the-width-of-the-park shitheads. (They're from Finland and called Cats On Fire btw and the fucking fightback starts here.). . .