Apologies, I Have None seem like a band I’ve known forever, but in fact only came to my attention last month as the group sexy enough to get Sam Russo in his pants for their beautiful new video (https://youtu.be/yGY1m-pnHtM ). Turns out some of their older tracks have been loitering around a few Brit-punk mixtapes I’ve been given, but this album is such a significantly more accomplished affair I’d have believed you if you told me they were the product of an entirely different band.
‘London’ kicks off at a furious pace and barely lets up for its duration; one forceful bundle of riffs and shouts and beats after another. Thematically strong, the album draws on its eponymous landmarks to feel rooted and real – the number 26 bus, Victoria Park, Tower Bridge, the claustrophobia of the capital when you’re feeling alone. This might not appeal so much to anyone not in London, but sitting in Viccy Park listening to ‘Sat In Viccy Park’ will take a while to get old for me.
The dual vocals from Dan Bond and Josh McKenzie are another real winner, particularly when they’re fore-grounded, as at the start of ‘Holloway or Anywhere’. It’s an effect I’ve not heard done well in some time and it makes every chorus sound massive, like they were just made to be sung with the crowds in sweaty venues. In fact it’s hard to listen to London on your i-pod in public places due to the irrepressible urge to stick your hands in the air and scream along. PJ Shepherd (bass) and Joe Watson (drums) deserve mention here, because it’s the depth and drive of their respective offerings that fill out each track and make them immense enough to handle the weight of the vocals.
In terms of specific songs it’s hard not to simply write out the entire tracklisting, but lead single, ‘Clapton Pond’, is a definite highlight, getting bigger and more intense over 4 minutes till it has to explode. The final line though is a quietly reflective, “This is progress towards perfection”, a deep breath before swooping seamlessly into ‘Concrete Feet’, an equally huge, but nonetheless different epiphany. ‘Foundations’, sans guitars, just rolling piano and plaintive vocals, is beautifully sad and about as close to quiet and slow as you’ll find here.
This album boasts some of my favourite lyrics in a long while, from ‘Sat In Viccy Park’s, “My relationship with reality, yeah, it comes and goes,” to ‘The 26’ with “Fuck you, London. I’m out,” (something I can totally see myself drunkenly yelling down Old Street) and “It’s alright, ‘cause we’ve got the boot packed up tonight,” of ‘Still Sitting Tight’, not to mention the brilliant philosophical diatribes too long to quote here. Most importantly, they feel 100% genuine, something that can sometimes be missing when going a bit emo.
‘The 26’ and ‘Joiners and Windmills’ demonstrate best how, though at first listen it might seem so, this album isn’t all one note. Apologies are their greatest here at giving their lyrics room to breathe, dropping almost all accomplishment for a line, then punching in with a massive riff to emphasise the next one, or using the pulse of the guitar to accentuate the rhythm of the words. It’s a powerful effect, but not overused.
‘London’ is a powerful album as a whole, too. It bears the urgency of a major life realisation reached at 4a.m., one that has to be expressed now before the sun rises, sobriety hits and it’s forgotten. It’s an album of lessons learned that made me nostalgic for 90’s ‘coming of age’ films about growing up and screwing up and getting up again. And while I understand the critique that some of these insights are naïve, I find them to be fitting and endearing – this is the way that everyone should be in their early 20’s in the big city. Apologies have got miles of time to sound ‘mature’, now is the time to be intense and exuberant and melodramatic. But honestly, they don’t need me to tell them that; they’ve got it down.
Released March 19 2012 through Household Name
Posted by Katy Cousins