Simple drums . . . atmospheric guitar scratches . . . Peter Hook-style twangy bass line . . . Johnny Marr riff . . .
The opening to No Tomorrow is classic indie rock – melancholy, resigned, smart – it’s all we ever wanted. There’s no question about it, The Boyfriends are a tight unit: Richard Adderley (former rhythm guitarist with Jack) and David Barnett (Suede biographer, almost-Fosca singer) create music that doesn’t put a foot wrong. Just when you’re ready to fall in love, the vocals begin. The closest comparison to Martin Wallace’s voice is not Morrissey, as some have said, but some 80’s Thatcherite comedian doing a parody of Morrissey as part of his act.
Amazingly, the song even manages to excuse Martin Wallace’s drone. What it doesn’t excuse, however, is the lyrics:
Don’t spend too much thinking and forget to stop living, / for you might find that life is passing you by./Live like there’s no tomorrow, / this very day could be your last.
A string of cliches is a string of cliches, but these must win some award for banality.
Their second song, I Love You, rips off Mansun’s Take it Easy (Chicken) with its three-note riff. And again, the lyrics undermine it: “If I know love then this is it,/Cupid scored a direct hit.” But then who listens to lyrics these days?
The Long Blondes are a different proposition, for one thing you can barely hear the lyrics amid the shoddy production. They sound like a generic girl-fronted new wave band. Not one of the famous ones, like Blondie, nor one of the cult ones, like The Slits, but another more anonymous one. Their first song, Autonomy Boy, is like Elastica being dragged backwards through a hedge. The second, The Long Blonde, sounds so authentically punkish that one would have thought that the 7-inch has been kicked around the carpet for the last 26 years. The only thing that’s inauthentic is the fact that it is all so drawn out.