The thrilling debut album from this intense New York City trio makes their city feel alive once again
The Pigeon Detectives
So which hypothesis holds? ‘Emergency’’s answer is ‘a bit of both’. The Pigeon Detectives realise that, in the crowded market in which they operate, their rapid rise has been premised on sheer strength of tunes. With this bit of canny self-knowledge tucked away, they return with a record even more smothered in hooks. From the skittering riff swirls of ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ to the Clash-indebted ‘You Don’t Need It’ (heavily indebted – it’s basically ‘Hateful’ in a false beard), there’s plenty that’ll rock the festivals once again. New producer Stephen Street performs the same trick he pulled off for Babyshambles and The Courteeners – finding the button marked ‘de-wobble’ on the mixing desk, shoring up the skronkiness of ‘Wait For Me’, to forge something richer, darker. Like Jacknife Lee, he’s great at sculpting guitar parts into silvery bullets of sound so compressed they’re practically emo (best witnessed on the snarling ‘This Is An Emergency’).
Problem is, it sometimes feels like the songs are just a conveyor belt on which to lay down another of Ollie’s mark-of-Zorro guitar riffs or one more scudding chorus chant. Individual tracks can feel forced rather than organically nurtured. It all means that by the time they hit ‘Making Up Numbers’ and ‘Everybody Wants Me’, there are no longer enough new tricks in their bag to hold our attention, and ‘Emergency’ bleeds away without a climax (albeit with a post-climax cigarette in the form of the jaunty strumalong final track). Combine that with a crotchety turn in Matt’s lyrics (like his Leeds mentor Ricky Wilson, he seems to be in danger of mistaking snarky cynicism for ‘attitude’), and ‘Emergency’ never quite hits the highs of ‘Wait For Me’.
For now, though, we’ll offer them a pat on the back for having produced another collection so quickly, and forgive the sense that ‘Emergency’ could have done with a bit longer in the oven. After all, we won’t have to critique it for very long: album number three will be with us any minute now…
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