Part of the last wave of indie bands to make any kind of impact in the U.K. charts, Wolverhampton five-piece the Twang find themselves in the difficult position of reestablishing their place in a market dominated by urban pop. Unlike the Fratellis, the Pigeon Detectives, and the Enemy, who all struggled to capitalize on their initial success with their second albums, the Twang have changed direction slightly with the follow-up to their Top Five debut, Love It When I Feel Like This. Thankfully, Jewellery Quarter replaces the loud, laddish, and sometimes obnoxious attitude of their first album with a softer, sensitive, and altogether more radio-friendly sound that should finally dispel the Happy Mondays comparisons once and for all. Indeed, lead single "Barney Rubble," full of jangly guitars and Latino rhythms, proves the band is much more convincing when it steps outside its baggy revivalist comfort zone. Elsewhere, "May I Suggest" and "Got No Interest" are melodic bittersweet ballads reminiscent of their only Top Ten hit, "Either Way"; "Twit Twoo" is a Reverend and the Makers-esque slice of synth-led indie pop; and "Williamsburg" is a more than competent attempt at subtle, brooding folk-pop. Lead vocalist Phil Etheridge's West Midlands tones, still as distinct as the Proclaimers' Scottish, John Power's Scouse, and Cerys Matthews' Welsh, can grate over a whole album, but on tracks like the breezy, acoustic "Encouraging Sign," perfectly complement Martin Saunders' more harmonious vocals. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and the likes of "Put It on the Dancefloor" and "Back Where We Started" revert back to the more familiar derivative Danny Dyer movie soundtrack-style terrace songs. However, Jewellery Quarter is a much more palatable listen than their debut, and with several potential singles, it gives them a fighting chance of avoiding the ever-growing British guitar group scrapheap.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien