Like the Jam if they had come from Wakefield rather than Woking, The Wind-up Birds have fought hard to establish their Northern rock credentials. That’s not Northern rock in the Oasis sense of course but music made by Yorkshire lads whose tales are raw, real and vivid. After a long sequence of EPs, the real test for the Leeds band came in 2012 when they released their first album, ‘The Land’. Political and fiery, they passed with flying colours and now comes the follow-up.
‘There Will Be No Departures From This Stand’ begins typically with a protest song, albeit a challenging, hook-free one, which might make sense of The Fall comparisons but unlikely to get them on Radio 1 anytime soon. It’s an unwieldy start but they hit their stride for third track, ‘Bus Drove Off’, which recalls teenage youth set to an escalating chugging riff whilst ‘Two Ambulance Day’ and ‘The Gristle’ recover the group’s ability to make anthemic music; both are high on drama and rough and tumble rhythms. The definitive moment, however, must be a “Song Or Two’, where they deliver a typical outsider view of a middle-class band’s gig (“I never felt more alone when the lead singer said everyone say “yeah”… I had to leave”); employing the band’s skills of slowly ratcheting up the tension before the frontman spits out vitriol in the manner of the most passionate trade union worker you could possibly imagine. Even film director Guy Ritchie gets it in the neck and it’s a track which boasts one of the album’s best choruses, to boot.
Across fifty minutes though, all the anger and working class grief can be a bit too much to take in one sitting. So you’re thankful when a relatively straight-ahead and jolly indie punk song like ‘Mate Crime’ shows up and primitive experiments with electronica (‘Bar Sadness’, ‘Jesus Puns’) evidence a willingness to embrace more modern music. However, The Wind-up Birds’ concerns always engage with a modern audience (even if they are tempered with stories of misspent youth) and their output continues to become more accomplished; never compensating on their trademark fury and dry wit.
The Jam, Arctic Monkeys, The Fall