1. What's So Great, Britain?
3. Where Did I Go Wrong?
4. Great British Summer
5. The Getaway
7. What You're Thinking
8. Already Dead
9. No Money, No Monday
10. Peaceful House
11. This Sounds Cliché
12. On My Own
Ever since artists started talking about politics, there have been critics (invariably those with opposing ideologies to those being espoused by the artist in question) who’ve argued that they should keep their noses out of politics, and stick to art. Of course, this is nonsense. Politics affects us all, and it’s in all of our interests to be politically literate, regardless of profession, and many artists feel that they have a duty to use their platform to promote their chosen cause. Sometimes it’s done subtly, with the odd ambiguous lyric here or there, and sometimes it’s been done with all the nuance of, well, Morrissey.
Youth Killed it have taken the latter approach with their second album, ‘What’s So Great, Britain?’ That’s not to say that they’ve vocalised support for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (far, far, far from it) but they’ve delivered a not so subtle broadside at the political malaise / arse cloud that’s been wafting its way across society for some time now. What’s more, they’ve managed to do it without mentioning that word that begins with B and rhymes with “feck shit”, although its presence is clearly felt, and nowhere more so than in the opening track which shares the album’s title. Youth Killed It have developed a sound which blends Punk with chirpy yet shouty Indie sensibilities, and it’s really rather endearing.
The lyrics cover themes with which we can all relate; not just political but also personal dissatisfaction, broken relationships and the general shittiness of a bang average and unfulfilled life, but surprisingly it’s never depressing, and it’s often funny. ‘Headbutt’ is a case in point, one of the singles from the album, it’s a caricature of the loud-mouthed bloke, who reckons he’s hard AF, and wants everybody to know it, but nobody’s buying it. It’s a cutting character assassination, and works so well because we’ve all met him, or at least been within earshot of him as he runs his mouth off at the bar before going home for a cry wank in front of Challenge TV. Maybe. ‘What You’re Thinking’ is a commentary on the phenomenon of the keyboard warrior, particularly those who make assumptions of fellow social media users: “You think cos I’m a big lad, I’m out on the weekend, being anti-social and getting into fights. Are you mad mate? Are you mad mate? I’m actually at home with my cat, cleaning the house and watching Adventure Time”. I tend not to mass quote lyrics, as it seems a cheap way to up my word count, but come on, that’s a keeper.
Whilst we’re on the subject of lyrics, it brings me to my one slight niggle with this record. One of the strengths of ‘What’s So Great, Britain?’ is that there’s no ambiguity in the lyric, it’s always incredibly relatable, but could that also be a bit of a curse? Sometimes they seem a little crudely or naively crafted, despite their humour. There’s never any point where the listener is left to wonder what Jack Murphy is actually getting at, there’s not much space to interpret the words with our own meaning. Also, whilst I’m on this negative vibe, I may as well get this out of the way, there are a few occasions (in ‘Headbutt’, ‘What’s So Great, Britain?’ and ‘Great British Summer) where the lyric uses rhyming triplets. I realise this is probably a personal thing, so don’t let it cloud your judgement (I honestly haven’t, yet I felt I needed to get it off my chest) but it always seems a bit laboured when the rhyming string carries on for a third line, rather than just leaving it at two.
Lyrical niggles aside, what I really want to say about this record is that I love it; Youth Killed It have created a fresh yet accessible sound, they deal with the major issues, but they also deal with the minors. They’re having a pop, but they’re also celebrating, or at least having a laugh, at the deficiencies of modern society. And let’s face it, if you couldn’t laugh, you’d cry.
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Review - Jon Stokes