Four piece indie types Club Smith are one of the newest act to spring forth from Leeds’ very fertile underground music scene. Appetite For Chivalry boasts productions from Will Jackson and James Kenosha who, between them, have helmed releases from fellow Northern indie boys The Cribs as well as Leeds’ finest sweaty rockers Pulled Apart By Horses. From these facts you’d expect the album to be a worthy musical endeavour yet the end result is something … well … just plain weird.
There are stomping synth-infused alt rock songs which lie in polar opposition to heartfelt slow burners, making an album that’s already musically befuddled sound even more disjointed. The album kicks off in a rather unassuming fashion of ambient noise, punctuated by a rather rusty sounding bass before the rest of the band enters. As opener ‘Mantra’ unravels what is clear is the band certainly has musical ambition but not yet the means to hone said ambition into a coherent selection of enjoyable songs. Second track ‘No Friend Of Mine’ is a much more direct, post-punk affair but sounds like its performed by a completely different band. Trebley, off-kilter guitar and dancey drums make this energetic track ideal for a live environment yet is at odds with the more introspective elements of the record. The grating bass guitar and catchy chorus yearn to be loved by intoxicated teens in indie-discos. Follower ‘Beautiful & Useless’ could have easily been penned by the Young Knives. It’s constructed out of similar vocal harmonies and jerky rhythms which yes, make the track catchy but because of its juxtaposition with the pounding grunge madness that came before it, the song’s pop hooks lose their intended impact. The record takes another strange turn for ‘I Don’t Want To Show You That I’d Lost Faith’. The lead singer’s voice resonates with the vocal histrionics of Muse’s Matt Bellamy over minor key piano arpeggios and slightly off putting atmospheric guitar effects. ‘In Arrears’ is two and a half minutes of inoffensive guitar-driven indie and plodding synthesiser lines that dissolve into welcome feedback, leading into ‘Nonchalant’, another distortion-drenched soulless indie-dance track featuring a now very annoying warbling synthesiser. ‘Lament’ features elements of much promise, clever bass meets with unorthodox percussion but the song repeatedly delves back into indie-disco territory, turning a track that could have been a truly interesting aural exploration into one that is rather drab. Album closer ‘Young Defeatists’ sees the band back on the right track, utilising sublime dynamics to make it one of the highlights of the album. It builds to an expertly crafted crescendo that gives way to a short minimalist piano piece, bringing the album to a dignified close.
Appetite For Chivalry is the sound of a band that has yet to find their niche. Throughout the album they hit upon several genres- post-punk, alt-rock and disco-grunge to name a few but while some bands may be applauded for creating and album with such a wide plethora of genres, Club Smith just seem to be blindly grasping for a sound to call their own. The band need to decide if they are going to produce by-numbers Kaiser Chief indie tunes or expand on their more atmospheric and introspective abilities which, through tracks such as ‘Mantra’ and ‘Young Defeatists’ the band are more than capable of. Appetite For Chivalry is a shaky effort to say the least, but one that the band will hopefully build upon to mould their own unique sound.
Two and a half high fives!