There was a certain ironic synchronicity to The Enemy announcing their split at the height of #indieamnesty, as though a Twitter trend could actually end careers with a click of its Retweet button. For many this Coventry trio represented the final spurt of the 00’s indie rock money shot, the point where the scene had become so consumed by the system that any old bunch of guitar-toting neds with a chantable hook would find themselves snapped up by a major and lobbed at the top end of the charts before you could say The Pigeon Detectives.
Thing was, The Enemy weren’t just any old bunch of guitar-toting neds. The abuse that singer Tom Clarke received for his looks and stature – abuse which he’s since claimed in Facebook posts aggravated bouts of suicidal depression – overshadowed his world-beating knack for unifying rock choruses and the sort of outspoken socio-political ire that, to its eternal shame, guitar music has long since left to old guarders like Bobby Gillespie for fear of being pilloried by the Twitter troll mobs. He was mocked as ‘unevolved’ by Faris Badwan from The Horrors at the NME Awards in 2008, a metaphorical premonition of the Torys’ austerity regime – a monied middle-class say-nothing patronising one of the last great working class voices in rock. And The Enemy’s debut album ‘To Live And Die In These Towns’ was probably the last great record of the 00s indie explosion too; ‘Had Enough’, ‘Away From Here’, ‘You’re Not Alone’ and ‘It’s Not OK’ were immense roar-along rock tunes that cut to the heart and soul of breadline hardship, provincial romance and the velvet-lined prison bars of small town life.
You can’t help think, as The Enemy call it a day citing radio indifference among personal issues, that they were shouted and shunted out of the slick, streamlined, view-counting modern music industry, that the ‘indie landfill’ tag that buried them applied primarily to starry-eyed working class acts rather than the Foals, Maccabees and Mumfords that survived it. As guitar music increasingly becomes a feasible life choice only for parent-backed middle class trust funders, often pretending to be ‘rustic’, there’s an undertone that snotty, angry, downtrodden kids like The Enemy – or more recently Fat White Family – don’t belong anymore, with their imperfect dentistry and their ‘things to say’. It’s Bastille’s world now, bands like The Enemy just gnash away at its titanium underbelly.
Today though, those of us with an ounce of rock’n’roll fire in our veins will be raising a tinny and yodelling ‘Awayo-wayo-wayo” across the nearest Aldi car park.