Review: The Minutes – ‘Live Well, Change Often’

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With a name like The Minutes and a reputation for animated, hard-hitting riffs, it seems a little ironic that it took the Dublin rockers three years to follow their debut album with this latest contribution ‘Live Well, Change Often’.

The band have slowly become heroes in their native land, and toured unremittingly following first release ‘Marcata’. Last May the three piece took some respite from their time on the road and swapped the wet hills of Ireland for the cold mountains of Canada, heading into a Vancouver studio with GGGarth Richardson- a man whose CV is peppered with some gargantuan collaborations; Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Biffy Clyro are just three that spring to mind.

Richardson’s input on ‘Live Well, Change Often’ has resulted in something a little more refined and smooth than earlier exertions, but there is still a potency to the sound that shouldn’t disappoint fans that are stirred by grittiness and rough rock n’ roll, you magnificent grubby bastards.

Opening with ‘Hold Your Hand’ the band establish a modus operandi for keeping things slick and relatively straightforward, three deep bassy chords support comfortable lyrics and a flashy solo; it’s an adequate but frankly unremarkable beginning to the album. Second track ‘Seven Seas’ is more frantic and has a blissfully upbeat and catchy guitar line leading into the chorus, demonstrating The Minutes’ continued ability to write vigorous, danceable music that should work very well for them on this year’s festival circuit.

Cherry Bomb’ is the album’s first single and most radio-friendly piece, with elements of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Jace Everett, the sound is conspicuously American considering it was recorded in Canada by three Irishmen…This is a solid first single with an amiable video featuring an aspiring Elvis impersonator.

Hey Hey’ sticks to the standard rock n’ roll model a little too much to inspire awe, but the definite nod to psychonauts Tame Impala comes across and provides a certain charisma. Midpoint ‘Supernatural’ is one of the highlights of the record, Mark Austin’s elevated vocals come across incredibly distinguished and the bridge showcases some excellent drumming from Shane Kinsella and stadium filling noise from the whole trio. This all builds to the climax where the supernatural is subverted and Austin screams, “There is no God! There is no ghost! There is no spirit!” Cracking stuff.

Outlaws’ is a slightly more harmonic, narrative-led tale and ‘Holy Roman Empire’ is a guitar-driven bit of classic-rock lunacy that uses a brief recess and inclusion of piano to tease before another satisfying drop. ‘Lo and Behold’ is something wholly new for The Minutes – it starts with acoustic sentimentality and slowly blossoms into an exquisite string section, it’s the first time the band have brought such a soft touch along for the loud ride, and it works excellently as another high point on the album.

1234’ feels a little silly after such a sensitive morsel, but its poppy, upbeat rhythm is undeniably infectious. The album’s closer ‘Mystery of Om’ is another psych-rock blaster (and with a hippy-bait title like that, it’s no surprise), which features another first-rate union of the three-piece’s talents and is a fine full stop to the record.

The Minutes have produced something of merit, but they should heed their own advice; ‘Live Well, Change Often’ is a good, solid rock album that is most interesting when the trio deviate from anything too formulaic. It’s nothing groundbreaking but fans of their previous release will find a lot to love here.

Here’s hoping they gain the confidence to experiment with their own capability on that inevitable third release.

(Luke Savage)

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