Album Review... Reverend and The Makers - Thirty Two

Back in the tender year of late 2005, amongst the impromptu Tsunami sized waves of hysteria that started to escalate around Sheffield's, young but constantly NME featured indie band Arctic Monkeys, Jon McClure was scouring every nook and cranny in the town for musicians to form Reverend and The Makers - and was also reportedly offered up to £150,000 from major records labels to make an album just like the debut of his Sheffield peers.

*COOL FACT* - Jons brother Chris McClure is the guy you see smoking on the cover of 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' by Arctic Monkeys.

However, three Top 20 albums down the line, and with the release of fourth album, 'Thirty Two' (to be released via Cooking Vinyl) eagerly waiting in the wings, ready to take centre stage and steal the show, I say thank god Mr McClure stuck to his guns - because if he hadn't, who knows what Justin Bieber-esque, auto-tune induced shit the major labels could of had him making today in order to conform with what's currently deemed 'popular' in the industry.

Now 32, McClure, often referred to as The Reverend, has embraced his age by naming his bands very new creation after it and although a huge UK tour would usually be enough for any band, McClure has decided to take it one step further - by doing spontaneous 'decided on the night' house gigs for lucky fans up and down the country before the actual tour has even kicked off.

But anyway, let's get to the main reason you decided to open this article...

First of all, I'd be lying through my teeth if I said a 'back-to-basics' predominantly guitar driven album wasn't a preference of mine - because it is. But somehow, like every one of their albums prior to this one, Reverend and The Makers have once again created a platform that enables you to indulge in a  healthy, occasional serving of electro-pop that doesn't make you feel like a jumped-up, 'Swag' T-shirt wearing twat, who lives for the likes of 'press-play' artists, Calvin Harris and David Guetta, once the album concludes.

Explosive album opener, 'Detonator' (pardon the pun), that is the shortest yet arguably catchiest song on the 11-track LP, is a prime example of this very indie/electro-pop/rock sound that the band have so primarily come a custom to, and when you do it this well and with such conviction, there really is no need to even contemplate changing that - so lucky they haven't. 'I'll take you somewhere we can hit your detonator', McClure delivers with self-assuring poise and his remaining Sheffield twang (a trait some may argue fellow Sheffield-man, Alex Turner unfortunately is no longer lucky enough to have) as the music briefly halts before consuming you once more. Although the lyric to me screams, SEXUAL INNUENDO, it's definitely one that you can undoubtedly foresee The Reverend occasionally not singing over the course of the groups UK tour dates just because he knows the audience will do it for him. 'I Spy' quickly follows with more of the same punchy brilliance yet more lyrical content which helps to form a catchy chorus that you can really get your teeth more into - and the fact the track clocks in at just 2.51 minutes means there is no reason why that floppy haired Grimshaw fella shouldn't be playing this on Radio 1 every bloody morning.

Thirty Two will be the bands fourth album
Then comes the extremely up-beat and ridiculously (yet amazingly) audacious 'Devils On The Radio' followed by the brief trumpet (I think there is a trumpet) induced opening of 'Nostalgia' - two tracks that would sound more than at home on a Madness album and will unquestionably cause havoc amongst the audience when they both drop live. Yes, I know what you are thinking, and I would normally agree that the combination of Ska and Electro-pop on the surface sounds equally as harrowing as the combination of Miley Cyrus and 'twerking', but both songs are surprisingly superb, work really well and are definitely album highlights for their sheer execution of Ska influences alone - a very pleasant surprise that proves the band always have the odd something up their sleeves.

Both 'Happy' and 'Play Me', are the two slower and more intimate efforts on the album and personally for me they are the very moments where I think Reverend and The Makers are able to fully come into their own as terrific songwriters - as oppose to 'just another indie band' that can churn out up-beat anthemic songs again and again. Most peoples perception of a 'slow' song usually coincides with phrases such as 'slow songs are boring' or 'I can't dance to it so it's shit' - but this band have the ability to write slower songs that abolish such stereotypes - where many other bands don't. They've done it before - 'Sex With The Ex' for example from their 2007 debut in my opinion is one of their best ever tracks. The Vaccines done 'Post Break Up Sex' and judging by both titles the running theme is pretty similar, but it was the immediacy of it that for me didn't match the accompanying lyrics - there's hardly anytime for the consumer to reflect or relate. Reverend and The Makers on the other hand sold the same story but at a pace that gave you a chance to remember the very moments in your own life where you had experiences just like the ones McClure is there singing about.

And like on those previous albums, these slower numbers are also then able to play host to the emotional depths McClure can reach lyrically whilst still ensuring he, as the protagonist, is someone the audience can relate to. Because despite the illation and escapism you can get from songs that you can just get up and lose yourself to, at the end of the day once those tracks end, the problems of your reality will still be there - and that's when you need them slow, crooning numbers to help you address your own heartbreak or life issues in the company of a voice that is effectively telling you that you aren't the only one, you aren't the first and you won't be the last. Perhaps that in itself is why I am such a big fan of the slow songs and why I would have no problem in saying, 'Play Me', despite the 'get up and go' sense of euphoria you gain from the other songs on this album, is my favourite track off of this LP.

Next, opening with a vocal chant that has the very melodic power to get even the most boring of people infectiously tapping their foot and secretly humming along in the corner, 'Different Trains' is the sort of song I'd imagine could soundtrack a film montage of a married man with kids who wins a load of money in a massive game of blackjack. He then starts taking a load of drugs and starts having sex with a load of girls, ultimately cheating on his wife and eventually loses everything (cough cough music video idea for you there guys). The song is also like the bad side of your conscience - it makes you want to do something illegal but by the time you do it, get arrested and go to blame the person that made you do it, they are long gone as if they were just a fragment of your imagination all along. McClure also exchanges vocals back and forth on the verses with who I assume is another member of the band which is a very nice touch.

'Time' has yet another catchy chorus whilst the verses are quite reminiscent of those in old fan favourite 'Heavyweight Champion Of The World'. 'Old Enough (To Know Better)' is a guitar, bass and drum galloping machine and certified single with a striking alarm type sound at the start that makes you feel like you've just set the alarms off at a bank you're robbing and before you know it you are running away from half of the Metropolitan police force. So a great atmosphere resonates through this one and I particularly like the lyrics and theme - 'backside on the bar stool, will he take her upstairs?' being a certain highlight.

As the album begins to draw to a close, coming in at second from last, is recently released new single, 'The Only One' and I believe it to be somewhat of a standout track that to me truly makes me question why this band isn't ten times bigger? And despite how long you ponder on that, you won't find an answer because the truth is, it is somewhat unjustified that Reverend and The Makers aren't headlining places like the O2, because songs like this one, and the whole album for that matter has 'stadium filling' all over it.

Closing track 'Your Girl', which was also available for free to anyone that pre-ordered the album through Pledge Music when the announcement of a fourth LP was first released back in October, is for me probably the weakest of the bunch, but that doesn't mean that it's not a good song - it just means the rest of the album is borderline, sublime.

And on that note, all I have left to say is, go grab yourself a copy as soon as possible - because in order for real music like this to once again, reclaim the charts top spot (a chart that is currently riddled with manufactured poisonous pop), it's in album sales where success needs to occur and it's in the very light of success where this band in particular, truly belong.

The bands fourth album, 'Thirty Two' is scheduled for release on 24th February but can be pre-ordered right now from PLEDGE MUSIC.


By George Henry King