Good Shoes

Think Before You Speak

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On their singles and EPs, Good Shoes seemed like the scrappy kid brothers of similarly bouncy, angular bands like Maxïmo Park and the Futureheads, but on their debut album, the Shoes come into their own: Think Before You Speak is a set of cheeky, vulnerable songs with all the sugar-rush immediacy, and addictiveness, of a crush. The band's singles still exemplify their economic yet jam-packed style. "All in My Head" pairs giddy riffs and a breathless melody with self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating lyrics about doing nothing; on the fantastic "Never Meant to Hurt You," Rhys Jones sings "you never knew that I didn't love you" with such a light touch that it just sounds honest instead of cruel. Think Before You Speak boasts production that's cleaner than Good Shoes' earlier releases, but the more polished sound gives their sprightly music the fullness it needs to make a bigger impact, especially on spring-loaded songs like "Nazanin" and "We Are Not the Same," where riffs and melodies pop up in all directions, chase each other, and occasionally fall into lock-step. The band tries for a ballad with the lovely "Blue Eyes," but gets carried away; "Sophia" goes for a slyer and sadder approach, mixing vignettes of going out to shows with threats and regrets like "If you go back to where we first met/It will only break your heart" over sparkling guitars. Most of the album deals with relationships that feel like arguments, and vice versa, but the band has a social conscience too. If they're not classic angry young men, they're at least cranky young men on "Morden," a bittersweet theme song to Good Shoes' London neighborhood; "Things to Make and Do" is jaded and idealistic at the same time, one moment lamenting "private education makes me sick" and the next scoffing, "I got a tan from my TV." Though the first half of Think Before You Speak is a little more striking than what follows, these songs are never less than remarkably smart and catchy. In fact, the jaw-dropping amount of indelible melodies and insightful lyrics on Think Before You Speak could very well make it a classic.

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