The Young Knives

Voices of Animals and Men

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The Young Knives' full-length debut cleans up and commercializes the punk revival sounds they explored on their mini-LP The Young Knives...Are Dead. Like so many of the new British rock bands of their time, the group display a heavy Gang of Four influence, and as might be expected for a major-label group of this ilk, famed Gang of Four leader Andrew Gill mans the production boards. But where Gill's group experimented with funk elements and basically invented a genre, the Young Knives dabble in so many styles and influences that they frequently come across like mimics of their more recent peers like the Futureheads, the Libertines, and the raging Mclusky. Worst of all is when frontman Henry Dartnall affects a falsetto reminiscent of the Darkness at their cheesiest. The Young Knives certainly show that they know their way around hooks and power chords and thus produce catchy, chart-friendly singles like the frequently out-of-tune Futureheads soundalike "The Decision," the Gang of Four-meets-the Darkness freakfest that is "Here Comes the Rumour Mill," and the Mclusky rip-off "She's Attracted To." "Loughborough Suicide," reminiscent of Barat/Doherty, is perhaps the strongest song here, bringing together the myriad influences and vocal tricks into a strong anthem that declares "I will never go down fighting." There's really not an original moment on Voices of Animals and Men; it's uneven in its sequencing, and more than a few tracks reek of filler, but thanks to Gill's production help, the dynamics are satisfying enough to almost make up for the youthful inexperience of the songwriting. A young audience helped the album's singles into the Top 40, but one can't help turning to thoughts of Kula Shaker, Razorlight, and other unhip bastions every time catchy, derivative, and purposely uncool bands release average-at-best major-label efforts like this at the tail end of revived genres.

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