Saturday, 28 May 2011

For Abel - Greater Inventions



For a nation with a tradition of making classic guitar pop, old Grande-Bretagne has been a bit tough on boys in bands over recent years. Floppy fringed frontmen have been crushed under the Hummer's of hip-hop royalty; drummers distracted by the gleam of glow-sticks; base players blindsided by bootylicious R&B banshees - It’s all a far cry from the days of the Britpop boom when, somehow, even Menswear managed to gate crash the charts!

While the mainstream looks the other way though, the aspirations of kids in rehearsal rooms haven’t changed and if Boethius’s wheel is about to creek round once more and offer fame and fortune to fledgling four pieces, then Glasgow’s For Abel want to be pushing in right at the front of the queue.

The lads from the city that planted the seed for Creation Records and where Postcard called home, have come up with a debut album, Greater Inventions, that is 10 instalments of vintage indie guitar pop you feel both labels would have approved of. It’s not original, on paper it doesn’t even sound that exciting, but crucially it works because it’s packed with the kind of simple melodies and crisp guitar licks that you would have to try really hard to dislike.




There’s no getting away from it, at times its reference points are blatant. ‘Sway’ merges Shed Seven’s ‘Bully Boy’ with ‘Tomorrow’ by James while debut single ‘Yorkshire’ shares much with well known tracks by The Loft and The Wonder Stuff. Whether this is by accident or design only the band will know, but in truth it doesn’t really matter because in both cases homage is payed lovingly.

The root of this sense of familiarity comes from the singer Robert Armstrong. While his vocals have most in common with Neil Hannan, there are times on the record where he does a passable impression of Liam Fray of The Courteeners, Tim Booth and on occasion Martin Rossiter – indeed on tracks such as 'Broken Hands' and the rousing 'First Killing' there’s a healthy hint of Gene to be heard in all the bands' delivery.

Inevitably a record that so boldly has its influences on display won’t be for everyone. If you’re looking for innovation then this isn’t the album for you. Not every LP has to break new ground however, and if a whistle stop tour of the best bits of what C86 through to Britpop had to offer sounds appealing, then it's unlikely you'll be disappointed by what For Abel have served up.

A great invention? No. A worthwhile revision? Without question.