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Ornaments From The Silver Arcade
Young Knives Ornaments From The Silver Arcade
Released 1 April 2011
Producer Nick Launay
Label Gadzook/ PIAS
Length 39:26
Genre Post punk
Website www.youngknives.com

For the best part of a decade, Young Knives have been critically acclaimed, and garnered a reputation as one of the most thrilling live acts around. Acclaim and reputation, however, can’t hide the fact that the Leicestershire three-piece have so far failed to live up to their potential, failed to translate their punk-pop hooks and acerbic lyrics into something the world feels it needs to hear. Until now, perhaps.

Three albums in, and, in truth, the formula hasn’t changed dramatically. It’s essentially the same spiky, post-punk sound they’ve built their career on, but producer Nick Launay (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) has added a hint of electro to the mix and the result is indie disco heaven: Ornaments from the Silver Arcade combines the best bits of Britpop with highly danceable grooves and, crucially, razor-sharp pop sensibilities. The stars are aligned, the question now is whether the public buy into it.

Opening track and lead single 'Love My Name' is pure gold: its staccato guitars mercilessly drilling themselves into your head atop a bed of bleeps, beeps and otherworldly synth. Things only get better. 'Woman' is like a post-punk calypso (it really works) explosion of sheer unadulterated joy, 'Human Again' is The Kinks on speed while 'Running From a Standing Start' brilliantly combines a low-slung electronic bass loop with crunchy guitars, building to a chorus that will live long in the memory. Things continue on in a similar vein: there is much to love in every single song, culminating in the arms-aloft euphoria of 'Glasshouse'. Along the way, Young Knives bring the listener on a journey through post-punk, garage rock and bouncy electronica, somehow managing to successfully navigate the fine line between familiar and derivative.

The key touchstone for me is Blur at their very best with touches of Supergrass thrown in. Don’t believe me? Close your eyes and listen to 'Go to Ground', and suddenly it’s 1994 again. The unmistakeable Britpop influence could be construed as a failing of the album; after all, the nineties were synonymous with shameless pilfering of a generation’s worth of music. However, it’s the sheer freshness of ideas and consistency of Ornaments from the Silver Arcade that pushes it beyond Kaiser Chiefs territory, beyond opportunistic parody.

There is not one weak track on the album, and its highlights are manifold. Every song exhibits an attention to detail and a variety of instrumentation which is hugely impressive, but what pushes the album beyond the ordinary is, quite simply, the sheer confidence of a band who know they are really hitting their stride.

- Ken O’Meara