Underground Railroad

Sticks And Stones

It’s about time we faced facts: as a society we’ve got too fat and apathetic to ever fully embrace the grunge revival that seems to be heralded as just around the corner every month or so. Even our most infamous skag lovers are packing a few extra pounds these days, living in unbridled opulence in north London – the result being no-one’s angry enough to give a flying fuck what The Man is up to any more. Stick The Ting Tings on and let him get on with it, we say, everything will be fine. The French, on the other hand, have no problem smashing shit up when someone tries to do a number on them, and thus it seems fitting that our best hope for our very own angry young revolutionaries to breathe new life into the genre are from the other side of the channel.

Prepare for some unbridled hyperbole, because ‘Sticks And Stones’ is an aural representation of just how cool the ’90s were until Chris Cornell and his shirt phobia ruined everything. It’s Nirvana; it’s Neutral Milk Hotel; it’s My Bloody Valentine minus the overriding preoccupation with giving the entire world tinnitus. Singer Marion Andrau is part ‘Doll Parts’-era Courtney Love, and on ‘25’ has the Kathleen Hanna vocals nailed down to smouldering “fuck you” perfection.

‘NYC (Money Money)’ is Sonic Youth meets Television in the most amazingly furious way possible (think Selfish Cunt without the disgusting irony) while ‘New Variety’ is the same slice of the Jesus And Mary Chain-esque new wave The Horrors had a stab at, except Underground Railroad’s way is totally cool and not at all ridiculous. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more ruthlessly honed post-punk melee with this much bite, so you might as well start digging out your stripy jumpers and battered Converses from the wardrobe now.

Yeah, OK, we know what you’re thinking. So they sound exactly the same as a bunch of bands who were pretty similar to start with, right? Right. No moulds have been broken, no perceptions smashed or boundaries irreversibly shifted, but it’s a thrilling listen nonetheless. Recording with John Goodmanson (SLEATER-KINNEY, YEAH?) in Seattle (YEAH?) they may be labouring the point slightly, but if we’re not prepared to change for grunge, grunge won’t change for us. Viva la devolution!

Rebecca Robinson

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