Just as punk co-opted the nihilistic outbursts of the ’70s and Morrissey’s worldview was informed by the alternative fanzine culture that rejected Thatcher’s Britain, angular south Londoners Good Shoes’ debut finds them digging into the fabric of their times for their inspiration.
Deeply personal, yet poetically universal, ‘Think Before You Speak’’s snapshots of everyday life feel like a ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ for the web age. From hometown boredom (‘Morden’), paranoia (‘All In My Head’), infidelities (‘Never Meant To Hurt You’), to getting wankered at the Barfly (‘Sophia’), the lyrics feel like they could be lifted straight from someone’s blog… er, your blog, to be precise.
But where Lily Allen causes trouble with her blogs and Jamie T distributes homemade mixtapes via his website, for the Shoes, what they do online isn’t as important as what blog culture can do for them. Frontman Rhys Jones may not have ever posted his diary online but he knows what it means to do so. His lyrics are infused with the same immediacy and candid personality of the best blogs (take opener ‘Nazanin’’s confessional: “When you walk into my room/All my insecurities are summed up”). Clearly he boasts an ear for his era.
What elevates these words from the computer screen is Good Shoes’ remarkably disciplined songwriting and production. Rejecting the more fanciful offerings of their Thamesbeat neighbours, and taking a choppy lead from The Futureheads’ first, every word, every note here is heartfelt.
Sparse and precise, this record never noodles around, but rushes breathlessly on with head-spinning excitement.
Tight, controlled and aware of the world around it, ‘Think Before You Speak’ is a defiant celebration of 21st-century living.