Sheffield is known for producing really good quality rock, indie and alternative music. Internationally renowned bands like the Arctic Monkeys, Def Leppard and Pulp have flown the flag, topping charts and releasing iconic albums seemingly at will. Before them, the new-wave bands Human League and the Thompson Twins had real success too. They’ve been ably supported by smaller acts like Milburn, Little Man Tate and Reverend and the Makers, bands who, despite never quite having the wild success of the aforementioned bands, still have a cult following and easily sell out tours a decade and a half after they arrived on the scene. More recently, acts like Self Esteem, who recently won the Guardian’s Album of the Year award, and The Reytons, a group whose live performances have been one of the most impressive things of the current UK indie scene, have proved that Sheffield can still see itself as a hotbed of talent.
And then you have the Sherlocks. For a band with a lot of hype and a lot of push from the industry, they don’t seem to have actually done very much. They don’t have the inventiveness of the Monkeys, the cutting wit of Pulp, the classic singalongs of Milburn and Little Man Tate. They don’t have the raw energy and passion that has made the Reytons, a band who if we’re being honest are pretty bang average, such a roaring success. They aren’t even interesting enough to have good Twitter spats like Jon McClure from Reverend & the Makers. Frankly, it’s a whole load of nothing.
Speaking of a whole load of nothing, their new album, World I Understand was finally released on the 21st of January, after being delayed for a fair while. I’m assuming the extra period they had was used to attempt to find some originality somewhere. The opening track ‘Porto’ is a 56 second instrumental. I guess it’s meant to be a cool opener but it just sounds out of place, especially as there is absolutely zero transition into the next track, and lead single off the album, ‘Falling’.
This song was actually used for the kit launch by my own Sheffield Wednesday, which was pretty disappointing, though the song in all fairness is arguably the catchiest on the record. However, it doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly discovered some musical genius hidden away somewhere, with lyrics like “I put myself in the fire, cos you know I couldn’t stand the cold”- the sort of thing that wouldn’t even make it into a Kooks song, never mind anyone close to being semi-decent.
Next up is ‘Wake Up’, a track most generously described as sounding like a knock-off version of the Courteeners (who themselves are hardly special) and at worst something that would win 3rd prize at a 6th form Battle of the Bands contest. “It’s a shame when your mind’s in space, and your phonе’s somewhere in town” sounds like the result of putting all the lines from the first Arctic Monkeys album into an algorithm and waiting for it to feed out new lyrics.
Following on from that is ‘On the Run’, a song which initially sounds promising with an opening riff almost resembling ‘Somebody Told Me‘ by the Killers, before quickly morphing into every other Sherlocks song, with vague references to leaving town and following dreams and the like. ‘Plastic Heart’ is next, which seems like it’s meant to be about a struggling relationship but instead just makes me wish for plastic ears rather than for the singer to fix his love life. The ‘highlight’ of this track is the outro, where a yell which should sound very rock-n-roll instead just makes me think the singer has stubbed his toe.
After this comes ‘City Lights’, a track so dull I genuinely can’t even think of a creative way to insult it in the way I’ve managed to with the others so far. ‘Sorry’ is up next, a track whose title I’d like to think is an apology to everyone who got this far into the album. Indeed, the lyrics “I’d love to finish this song, but I’m just useless” seem very apt, although luckily this song does in fact have an ending- something you yearn for as the track bumbles along, oblivious to just how mundane it is. Following this up is ‘Games You Play’, which seems like another poor quality love song, although the lyrics are so vague and meaningless that quite frankly it could be about everything. I will however praise this track for not following the same formula as every Sherlocks song ever, which is quite exciting for them.
However, the title track which follows goes straight back to the tried-and-trusted method: big opening riff, verses plucked straight from a rhyming dictionary and then a simple chorus easy enough for secondary school pupils in bucket hats to yell at whichever mid-tier festivals they inevitably play this summer. Ironically, ‘Last to Leave’, despite promising an end to the assault on my ears, isn’t the end of the album. There’s not much to say about this one. In fact, I could just copy what I said about the last track without changing a thing- it’s that repetitive. Finally comes my favourite track of the album by far, ‘Slip Road’. However, this isn’t for any musical reason, but more for the fact that it means I’ve got to the end of the album and so can go and listen to something decent instead.
The fact that this record, despite having 11 tracks, only reaches around 37 minutes in length shows the real limitations in their songwriting process. On the other hand, I’m quite glad it only reached this long because losing an hour of my life listening to this could’ve honestly killed me. The only further thing I’ll say is that, unless you enjoy torturing your ears and mind, don’t pick up this album.
Check it out on Spotify if you dare here!