Queen of the streets ain't got too much to say second time round
The problem with ‘Judgement Days’ isn’t its relentless mid-coffee-table tempo (although there’s nothing quite as mighty as ‘Dy-Na-Mi-Tee’). More it’s the age-old punk problem: when you’ve achieved personal and professional calm, it’s harder to do spite quite as well. Niomi McLean-Daley has always been at her best when she’s angry, and things begin well, the low-key title track’s attack on human selfishness being genuinely unsettling. And you wouldn’t want to be Daddy Dynamite after the apocalyptic ‘Father’ (or meet him, for that matter). But by ‘Not Today’ she’s bringing the same indignation to the everyday stresses of life as a working mum. Worse, on ‘Nobody Hears Our Cries’ she casts herself as a wailing peasant woman from Les Miserables, blaming every single thing that’s ever gone wrong in the world, quite specifically, on Tony Blair. There’s a fine, fine line between angry punk and sanctimonious nagging that’s crossed too often here, and it can’t be a coincidence that the best tune, ‘Back Then’, is the gleefully nostalgic one.
And still, the beats are slick and the vocals flawless. She’s still a brilliant, precocious talent – just one moving too slowly, and in the wrong direction. For somebody named after an explosive, you’d hope for a bigger bang.