The Young Knives

Ryko, 2008

REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane


The American indie fan has been bombarded in recent years with an avalanche of middle-class, smarmy, intellectual rock bands from that small little island off the coast of the European mainland whose residents used to control virtually the entire world. Between Franz Ferdinand, The Arctic Monkeys, The Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, The Kooks, and all the other intruders, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with English rock and easier and easier to take every new band from the island with a grain of salt. Such was my attitude toward The Young Knives from the English market town Ashby-de-la-Zouch in North West Leicestershire. The three-piece band’s 2006 full-length debut album, Voices Of Animals And Men, received consistent praise from critics on both sides of the Atlantic – another reason for my skepticism of  the post-punk revivalists’ sophomore release, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Superabundance.

I was pleasantly surprised.

First off, you should know, this album is nothing new. Much like the Young Knives’ debut, this record regurgitates the same tired old format that seems to be the focus of almost all of the new rock music coming from England: post-punk. We’re about as “post-punk” as we can possibly be at this point. Give it a rest, England. Really, we get it. You liked post-punk, so did we. You need some new tricks. But what shines the brightest on Superabundance – other than the blindingly predictable format – is the quality of the writing. Even if these tracks are wrapped up in the Knives’ unapologetically blatant throwbacks to their post-punk idols, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good. 

The guitar work is tight, refined (“Fit 4 U,” “Terra Firma,” “Up All Night”) and it slices through the disc far better than anything those nerd-rockers Franz Ferdinand have to offer. The vocal diction and phrasing is delivered flawlessly (“Counters,” “Light Switch”) and serves the Knives’ derivative format quite well. But wait, that’s not all, Superabundance also has memorable and smart hooks we can sing to (“Turn Tail,” “Dyed In The Wool”). The song arrangements are especially interesting and the rhythm section takes some welcomed Kings of Leon-esque twists and turns, breathing some life back into the dead horse that the Knives are beating.

This is a good record for anyone interesting in familiarizing themselves with the modern British rock scene. It’s one of the better examples of the English music climate and their songwriting smarts set the Knives apart from their Brit-rock contemporaries. Superabundance gets the “B” ‘cause it’s time for bands as talented as the Young Knives to move away from the aforementioned boring format. But don’t let that turn you off. It’s a damn good album.

Rating: B

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© 2008 Kenny S. McGuane and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ryko, and is used for informational purposes only.