Ten albums (and five labels) into their career Tim Burgess and co. must be sick of hearing words like 'reliable' or 'solid' bandied around whenever they release an album. Always the bridesmaids in Manchester's fecund musical terrain, they've survived death, disinterest and fashion to become some kind of institution. But will You Cross My Path, with its return to foursquare Brit rock with a danceable underbelly, reach the ears of any but the faithful?
You Cross..,. was released, Radiohead-style, as a free download to XFM listeners before it appeared in tangible form. Whether this was due to misgivings about quality or as a savvy nod to the changing shape of commercial music consumption depends on how you regard the band. For fans this album is an entirely safe bet.
Burgess sounds bullish, the band sound bolshy, and the songs are mostly uptempo. However, flowery talk of the influence of krautrock and psychedelia has perhaps been over-egged. A metronomic beat doesn't instantly denote anything kosmische, and likewise a swirling Hammond (something they've had since day one) isn't necessary going to bring the Fillmore West to mind. If anything the band are here paying homage to fellow Mancunians
The opening swagger of Oh! Vanity has a touch of Oasis in its blocky guitars and suspect scansion. But the key influence seems to be New Order on tracks like The Misbegotten or Mis-Takes with their popping sequencers and beligerent bass riffs. The vibe can also get a little punky on speedier thrill rides like the title track.
Ultimately there's little here that the band haven't done before. But they do it so well that no one who loves their reliable (there, i said it) brand of indie is going to complain. However, if anyone's still waiting for them to break free of the B-list and conquer the world, You Cross My Path isn't the place to start looking. --Chris Jones
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