None the Wiser... Clueless
Review: The Rifles – None the Wiser
Published on January 21st, 2014 | Jonny Abrams
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The Rifles’ fourth album None the Wiser has been going down a storm with middle-aged broadsheet writers who’ve mistakenly seen something hip to cling to in this latest dispatch of safe, clean and neatly categorisable pop/rock.
For the chronically devoid of imagination, None the Wiser could be a defining moment of Pet Sounds/Sgt Pepper’s proportions – others, however, may notice that it’s as numbingly predictable and one-dimensional in its way as recent Green Day material.
It’s pleasant enough to start with: “Minute Mile” hits the odd Stone Roses-y sweet spot, at least in the bits where it doesn’t sound irksomely like Bloc Party.
Things take a turn for the worse with the over-sugared rockabilly of “Heebie Jeebies”, before None the Wiser falls utterly flat with “Go Lucky” – no, not “Get Lucky”, “Go Lucky” – in which Joel Stoker provides the fuel for much sarcasm with lines like “wasn’t looking for a change” and “wouldn’t make the same mistakes”.
“All I Need” is distinctly unneeded, stodgy Oasis-busker fare that it is, while “The Hardest Place to Find Me” has to be on our end-of-year Best of 2014 playlist – insomuch as that would indeed be the hardest place to find it.
As for “Catch Her in the Rye”: eh? What is that even supposed to mean?
By this point you might feel like screaming from having heard the same basic chord progression over and over and over again.
It mightn’t be so bad if the lyrics had anything of even mild interest about them, or if Stoker’s vocals were striking as opposed to merely competent.
As things are, when “The Hardest Place to Find Me” ends with (gasp!) a synth, it just sounds token, shoehorned-in, almost apologetically so.
“Nothing quite says it like a four-letter word” contends Stoker on the nnnggghhhly titled “Shoot from the Lip”, but so bland are these songs that you’d feel compelled to cover their ears if someone even looked as if they were about to do a bad swear.
“Under and Over” is deployed as an ‘epic’ finale, which basically just means it goes on for too long, gunning for ‘everyman’ status with trite lyrics about being chained up like a dog on a lead by ‘the Man’.
In The Rifles’ case this would surely constitute their label, to whom they should be eternally grateful for releasing their profoundly pointless music.
A dearth of imaginative songwriting from start to finish, then.
None the Wiser will be released on January 26th through Cooking Vinyl.
Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!