Start The Party
21 January 2013
by Tom Doyle
There is a bit in the opening track of this, The Blackout’s fourth studio album, where one of them yells ‘WASSSSUUUPPPPPP’ in the style of that toad in the Budweiser ad from the year 2000. Remember that? In truth, opening with a pop culture reference that is nearly a decade and a half old is a microcosm of everything you need to know about this album but the turn of the millennia touchstones do not stop there.
The year after that Bud ad, Andrew W.K released I Get Wet and it seems that the boys from Merthyr Tydfil are fans of the ‘we-do-what-we-like-and-we-like-what-we-do’ aesthetic as much as they are leering amphibians. You see this is The Blackout’s “party concept record”. Hell, both of the videos released so far from Start The Party were filmed on the Balearic WKD stronghold of Ibiza and are, according the accompanying press release we received, designed to showcase “That laryiness, the yobbish, laddish, loud, shouting happy gang that’s all about doing what we want”. FINALLY, I hear you all cry, the laddish yobs of Ibiza come to rock music, WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG?!
Start the Party feels like an album made by a band rehashing ideas from their youth to appeal to their indefatigable but relentlessly young fanbase. For all the Skins-esque “LETS GO MAD AND HAVE A BIG PARTY” we are presented with very little of any real danger or uniqueness musically and to be honest that is probably the aim of the game – keep it simple, play on the image. The title track in particular feels lugubrious and laboured rather than as madly effervescent as no doubt intended and there are even nods to old-timer Bon Jovi with mid paced woah-alongs littering the LPs eleven tracks.
This raises some interesting questions, first and foremostly – are the so often derided teen rock fans of the UK really the dumb beasts they are constantly portrayed as, happy to lap this by the numbers stuff up ad nauseum? Or are the 20-something cynics amongst us misjudging their capacity to see through ham fisted appeals to their wallets? The evidence suggests the bands who have seen success in the last few years in the UK are those who have some backing to their bluster, some genuine song writing nous or something interesting to say – Lower Than Atlantis, Deaf Havana, Bring Me The Horizon are at least all pushing the envelope in one way or another, whether it be in regards to music, message or presentation. In these departments The Blackout are fatally lacking.
In this modern era it is no longer enough to present your audience, no matter how young or naïve you judge them to be with something that is so patently off (or in the case of Start The Party, about ten years behind) trend and expect know-no-better kids to pick it up on the strength of your haircut and limited other options. Similarly, shouting at the top of your voice “WE ARE HAVING A GREAT PARTY” while you sit in a kitchen with 3 other bored people sipping a can of Fosters is no way to fool anyone. Kids will quickly spot PR flim-flam, and you worry whether The Blackout will start to see diminishing returns in an ever competitive market.
This year the band celebrate their 10 year anniversary and they deserve significant credit for coming as far as they have – but it seems that they need to start looking forward, not back and to originality not old ground if they are to continue to reap rewards. For all our sakes, I sincerely hope I am not reviewing a Blackout album in 2020 called #YOLO.
15 Years Old/6
Sounds like: Lostprophets.
Stand-out tracks: Take Away The Misery.
We wonder if The Blackout have forgiven us for pointing out they are wankers yet? Probably not, we suppose.