Album Review: Everybody Loves A Scene – New Rhodes
(Salty Cat Records)
By Guy Sangster Adams
Galloping rhythms riven with fast funk, melodic sunshine treble over guttural, self-confident 1977 riffs, tether slicing soaring vocals and ascendant backing vocal harmonies, contradict these narratives of lost love, unrequited lust, lonely disillusionment, and life wrecking decisions. This boys have feelings too introspection so upbeat one can dance all over it, evokes pre-Goth The Cure and in particular Boys Don’t Cry. Though the holistic post-Punk redolence of Everyone Loves a Scene is more akin to Postcard Records’ early eighties ‘Sound of Young Scotland’ bands, especially Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. Incongruously, New Rhodes are from Bristol by way of Hackney, East London… though to continue the projection of a Scottish theme, with echoes of the late, great Billy Mackensie, James Williams is possessed of a supremely powerful pop voice with a great range from punk choirboy, through rough edged rock, to Rat Pack swing, contemporarily analogous to Brandon Flowers. Indeed The Killers are one of the key acts that New Rhodes have supported since the release of their debut album Songs from the Lodge in 2006.
New Rhodes appear to be a band at a crossroads on Everyone Loves A Scene. The album, as is Williams’ intention divides into two sides, to this end it is also available on vinyl in a gatefold sleeve in a very limited edition of 500. Side one, save for the recent single The Joys of Finding & Losing That Girl which fuses a great mix of stripped back urban troubadour with an electric guitar and a pre-amp verses, with terrace rousing choruses, and the gloriously eccentric slow sea-shanty doo wop of The Bells of St John, sets a course bound for a potentially overblown power pop in which the manifold talents of New Rhodes are in danger of being lost in the multi-layered production mêléé. Whereas side 2 contains the wonderful sequence of four key tracks in which less is definitely more as the bands strengths and scope are given their freedom and the pursuit of experimentation and originality pays off: the relentlessly edgy and driven A&E—a rebuff of London’s aura of perpetual emotional detachment— and Is This The Life You Want, the fabulously bonkers torch song to a girl on the 254 (the London bus from Aldgate to Holloway’s Nag’s Head) , and the melodramatic finale and resplendent showcase for William’s voice, You Can Have it All. A title which, if these tracks signal the direction to come, predicts New Rhodes’ future.