The Snuts – ‘W.L’ review: sun-soaked anthems from Scottish guitar heroes

Big-time support slots with Lewis Capaldi lead to endearing guitar anthems to unite the masses

Speaking to NME last week, The Snuts made it only too clear that they’re aware of that all-too-common pitfall faced by bands who dare to step out of their lane for the first time. “As soon as they try something new, their fans immediately get stand-offish about it,” said singer Jack Cochrane. “We want our sound to take you to different places: instead of causing you to throw pints, we want to connect on a deeper level. This album says that there is a place for guitar music in 2021, and it’s nice for us to be able to say that we’re not sticking to that classic UK indie sound.”

On the latter point, he’s correct. British guitar music – in all its guises – is waging an intriguing comeback in the UK Charts as of late: Mogwai, Architects and Bring Me The Horizon have all topped the Album Charts, while Black Country, New Road and Maximo Park have all made a good go at-it.

The Snuts, however, perhaps do not fall in line with the current threads those bands share – they are neither trendy post-punk or a festival-headlining, scene-galvanising rock behemoth. On their debut record ‘W.L’, the Scottish band make the case for something a bit more inclusive and down the middle, but never abandon the call of progress. And instead of isolating fans later on, they deliver a record of impressive contrasts; one that allows them to show off exactly why they’re beloved in their native Scotland, and soon beyond.

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Take opening track, ‘Top Deck’, which sees the band show off a tender side, including angsty teenage melodies that Cochrane wrote when he was 13. It’s a muted start, but the arresting funk of ‘Always’ and ‘Juan Belmonte’ that follows provide the first of many indications that Cochrane and co know their way around a decent hook.

As promised, no single sound dominates. Funk soon makes way for slinking blues-rock, something they reference frequently: ‘All Your Friends’ apes early-Black Keys, while the fuzzier end of Primal Scream rears its head on ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ and ‘Elephants’. The tender melodies of the soppy ‘Somebody Loves You’ – a golden slice of guitar pop ripe for soundtracking the Rule Of Six meet-up – are where their strengths lie.

The album’s middle-section, like frustratingly stripped back ‘No Place I’d Rather Go’, lacks the same urgency, but the playfulness on the swaggering ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk) – in which sees Cochrane offers “a middle finger to your favourite band (fuck your band)” – is a reminder that they’re not taking this thing too seriously, so neither should you.

Come festival season, should we have one, you sense that this genre-hopping gamble will pay off; it’s more ample proof that guitar music doesn’t just have a place in 2021, but that listeners are in tune enough to embrace and support its variety.

Details

  • Release date: April 2
  • Record label: Parlophone Records
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