The Snuts – ‘Burn The Empire’ review: urgent excitement holds together the many twists

The West Lothian band campaigned their own record label to release this searing album early – they were right to do so

The Snuts’ vocalist Jack Cochrane recently told NME that new album ‘Burn The Empire’ “is just bonkers all the way through”.  True to his word, the follow-up to The Snuts’ chart-topping debut ‘W.L.’ really is wonderfully unhinged.

The album starts with a speech from British political firebrand Tony Benn who explains that “an educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern” before the snarling punk-infused title track emulates that spirit. “I won’t take a backseat, no fucking way man,” spits Cochrane as he fans the flames of protest.

There’s social media angst and wistful nostalgia on the unsubtly titled ‘Zuckerpunch’, and ‘Cosmic Electronica’ is a swaggering, psychedelic track that sees The Snuts head to a warehouse rave. ‘Yesterday’ proves to be a soaring acoustic track dripping in cinematic beauty; then there’s ‘Pigeons In New York’, a rumbling guitar-led track that encourages unity through a feathery metaphor. All of it is brilliant.

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There’s fury throughout the record (it is called ‘Burn The Empire’ after all), but there’s also a lot of hope too. The Snuts might sing about political corruption, shady big businesses and moral bankruptcy, however it’s always with the promise that change is possible. “It’s not the end of the road / If we figure things out we can get back to the stars,” Cochrane sings on the Rachel Chinouriri-featuring ‘End Of The Road’, a dreamy, optimistic track.

The Snuts have come a long way from their indie-focused debut, though there’s still plenty of chaotic, festival-ready anthems across ‘Burn The Empire’. ‘The Rodeo’ is a hammering, hook-laden riot (with plenty of “la la las” thrown in for good measure) and ‘Knuckles’ is indebted to giddy ‘00s indie.

‘Burn The Empire’ might flicker between wanting to tear everything down and preaching compassionate understanding while it mashes together different genres, but there’s still a fierce focus to the record. The Snuts always sound like The Snuts, even when they’re flirting with funk-driven pop (‘Hallelujah Moment’) or socially conscious storytelling (’13’). Cochrane’s distinctive vocals certainly help but there’s an urgent excitement that holds together ‘Burn The Empire’s many twists and turns. No wonder the band campaigned their own label to get the album released early – unsurprisingly, they won that fight too.

A fearless evolution, there are no half measures on ‘Burn The Empire’. Every decision, no matter how bonkers, is followed through with confidence and conviction giving the entire thing a reckless energy that champions total freedom.

Details

  • Release date: September 30, 2022
  • Record label: Parlophone
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