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Massive Wagons - 'Full Nelson' Album Review


1. Under No Illusion

2. China Plates

3. Billy Balloon Head

4. Sunshine Smile

5. Northern Boy

6. Robot (Trust in Me)

7. Back To The Stack

8. Hate Me

9. Last On The List

10. Ballad Of Verdun Hayes

11. Ratio

12. Tokyo

Massive Wagons have been tipped as one of the next big things in the UK Rock scene. They have a cool blend of catchy riffs and choruses married to an infectious energy that has won them over a strong fan base. They've just completed a successful campaign which has helped them with the release of their third album "Full Nelson".

I've wrestled (sorry) with my thoughts on it since my first listen and I think that will carry on for a while. But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit, let's dial it back and look at the album.

Opener 'Under No Illusion' stumbles in like a cheery drunk at a wedding and I think this the album's first slip unfortunately. It's a good song but it's pacing feels a bit off for the first song. To me it would work better more as a second or third song. In fact swap it over for the following track 'China Plates' and you've got something. The song is bouncy and talks about social media with enough of a cheeky wink that makes you smile. Imagine if Terrorvision had access to Twitter and Facebook whilst writing 'Tequila' and you'll get the idea.

If a song opening with the lines "Hello my name's Billy Balloon Head, nice to meet you" doesn't raise a smile then this isn't going to be the album for you. Drummer Alex Thistlethwaite drives the verses along with a cowbell and a nice swagger and strut. 'Billy Balloon Head' works just nice and will have you finger tapping along in no time.

'Sunshine Smile' cranks out an eighties sounding Classic Rock riff and allows singer Barry Mills to let rip with the vocals showing he's pretty comfortable with an upper key, holding onto the song's title with ease. 'Northern Boy' is a ballad but with a difference. It's an ode to the band's heritage and it's northern working class roots. It's relatable and reminds you that you're never too big to ignore your past. 'Robot (Trust in Me)' changes pace with a cool staccato vocal that sounds like it was created with live performances in mind before letting rip with a blistering guitar solo that culminates in a great sustained note.

'Back To The Stack' nods it's head in a reverential way to Status Quo and their influence on Massive Wagons. It's boogie flavoured Rock while you make note of all the Quo references, both lyrically and musically. 'Hate Me' passes by without causing too much of a fuss. 'Last On The List' is more like it, upbeat and swinging along in a way that doesn't linger too much; it's almost gone in under four minutes before adding closing off with a Wildhearts sounding finish, always a plus in my books.

"Everybody riot" sings Barry at the start of 'Ballad Of Verdun Hayes' so from that you would expect something quite frantic but it saunters towards the finish line rather than sprinting. There's certainly a swing to the album, rather than focusing on straight Rock beats there's more of a groove going on the way bands like Bad Company would make sound effortless.

"Full Nelson" finishes off with the double whammy of 'Ratio' and 'Tokyo', both great songs but they can also be found on previous album "Welcome To The World" and, to be honest, having them both here has me wondering why. Old fans will already have them and new fans have got the option of streaming or buying their back catalogue of they want to. It just seems a curious thing for the band to do.

All in all, "Full Nelson" falls short of expectations. There are some cool moments, the guys are talented enough and deserve some success as they've worked hard and have the skills to back it up. Normally I would look at this solely on it's own merit but as soon as you start adding previous songs you're immediately inviting comparison. I feel a little let down by this album, and that's made me kind of sad. I really wanted to like it so much. Some listens have been more rewarding than others but still I haven't been completely sold on it. That and the old songs thing has tipped my mind one way and I've decided to give the album.......

Review - Scott Hamilton

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