Album review: The Twang – ‘Jewellery Quarter’

Any hopes of a reinvention are dashed as the Brummie's second LP crashes hard

There can’t be many people looking forward to this record. Since [a]The Twang[/a] failed in their bid for world domination first time around, they’ve dropped completely off the radar – so the story of ‘Jewellery Quarter’ isn’t one of music at all, but of five chancers down to the last couple of hundred quid of their advance. And the album is also, of course, for the entirety of its 44 minutes and 23 seconds, complete and utter dogshit.

You’ll be thrilled to know Phil Etheridge has gone soft: boy wonder gets the girl… embraces true feelings and inner heart… starts wearing cardigans… raises voice pitch slightly… listens to The Farm… a lot. That’s pretty much it. As he bleats on and on about what a catch he is – at one point we’re sure he bigs up his “double trouble Barney Rubble stubble” – you’re left thinking of one thing only: Danny Dyer. Get these two out on the piss right away, for they are an identikit sensi-lad match made in the depths of hell!

Incidentally, we just got word from Michael Jackson that the chorus to ‘Encouraging Sign’ is actually what plays over the Tannoy when you die and queue up to enter the dark side – one final, cruel punishment from God for failing to remember the plotline to Tron or nicking Chomps as a kid. Said chorus, which features the best of the band’s numerous attempts on the album to sound like The Christians, would make even the most meat-headed of soldiers think twice before using it to torture captives. Its lyric, sung in Etheridge’s best vicarage voice, coos “I will quickstep over the rooftops to get to your house”. How fucking lame! Lamest of all, though, is that it’s unwittingly catchy. It is the Chernobyl of pop music, 2009.

But saying all that… we’re in a kind mood, so let’s pick out the best bits, shall we? There are myriad influences here, undoubtedly. But the problem is they’re all spread so thinly. Of course, Mike Skinner’s mid-period Streets output – ie ‘Dry Your Eyes’ – is always lurking, though there’s no real depth or surprise to it. There’s funk too, but it’s really, really badly played white-boy funk that sounds like the castrated bits of Mick Hucknall’s knob slapping against an unused Charlatans bongo drum. Worse still, the entire album seems to be played in 4/4 time, all at the same dirge-like tempo. Why, exactly, do The Twang only seem to do one speed?! Does it all go horridly wrong when they mutate into The Dave Brubeck Quartet and, you know, actually try to experiment a bit?

To put it plainly, there’s just no hunger here. ‘Williamsburg’ is nothing more than an average [a]Doves[/a] album track that no-one – not even Jimi Goodwin – can be bothered to remember the name of. ‘May I Suggest’, meanwhile, has a guitar bit in the chorus that sounds like The Seahorses. But they wrote a song called ‘Happiness Is Eggshaped’, so is that even a good thing?

Are you convinced you won’t be buying this yet? It’s an abomination that should see whoever signed The Twang crucified. The message is simple: the joke isn’t funny any more, last orders rang long ago and the game is well and truly up.

Matt Wilkinson