The Rifles are England’s best kept secret. Why this band aren’t filling arenas and shifting shitloads of records is anyone’s guess. Yet fans of the Rifles may just like it that way – an albeit low key affair whereby they can keep them close to their chest and not give them away to the casual ear that picks up a Nickelback CD on the back of hearing one of their God awful song’s in the supermarket.
They formed in 2004 and joined a long list of bands that cited Oasis as an inspiration. Singer Joel Stoker and guitarist Lucas Crowther met at east London’s Redbridge College where they bonded over a mutual appreciation for Oasis. Lucas met drummer Grant Marsh in Candybox – a now defunct club night which in its prime was undoubtedly the best night out for lovers of quality indie music. There have been a couple of changes in the Rifles line up since their last album, 2009’s The Great Escape. Grant Marsh and Rob Pyne left and were swiftly replaced by Lee Burgess and Kenton Shin, with Dean Mumford joining them on the keys for live performances. So, with a new album in the can and a fresh line up, have they still got it?
Tangled Up In Love is The Rifles first offering from their new album, Freedom Run. It’s certainly no secret that Paul Weller has had a major influence on the band and this is something they’ve never shied away from in their music. Lyrical nods to the modfather have sprung up in their records and it’s an influence that prevails on the new single which is reminiscent of Shout To The Top. Opening with strings akin to the Style Council track will not come as a shock. What will come as a surprise is that the song is not as immediate as what we’ve come to expect from them. For anyone craving the slap in the face of Repeat Offender or a rousing anthem in the vein of Fall to Sorrow then you might just have to wait and see what the rest of the album has to offer.
This is a subtler side to The Rifles and fans of the band will know that they’re just as capable of crafting a good love song as they are a ballsy rocker. Despite their unblemished record of quality control and brilliant back catalogue of singles, this does feel slightly underwhelming and sounds like it would be more at home as an album track. Yet history has shown us that the Rifles tend to wait to bring out the big guns. First album, No Love Lost, released She’s Got Standards – arguably their best ever song, as the last single to be lifted from the record. Whether it’s a pattern they’ll be keeping up remains to be seen.
A big chorus is the key to much of the Rifles greatest songs. The new single doesn’t exactly follow that tradition. The track is carried by the riff and the chorus is more fleeting and less in your face than your typical Rifles song. Tangled Up in Love fits the mood of the season particularly well. On the contrary to throwing your arm around a mate and singing to the sky it’s more suited to couples and evokes romantic, sunny afternoon picnics in the park. Does it work well as the first release off a new album? It is a peculiar choice as a lead single. Despite being a decent enough track it’s not going to win over many new listeners but should do enough to keep long term followers happy until the album is finally unleashed.
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