Searing, urgent and impactful The Rifles’ heart was worn on their sleeve, their influences proudly flaunted on this fast-paced 2005 debut album. Here it’s given a lavish reissue – a notable reboot in the mastering department assuring sonic ‘welly’ and a surfeit of extras – to mark both the band’s 10th anniversary and the reconvening of the original four-piece line-up.
Formed in the wake of Oasis mania, the East London-originated band matched trad influences to the moody individualism of frontman Joel Stoker’s songs, their perspectives recalling Weller (an early fan and prime influence) back in The Jam’s halcyon days.
Prickly and hyper-sensitive takes on personal relationships (She’s Got Standards, the tongue-tied romancing of She’s The Only One) are a major calling card. A strong undertow of melancholy is undercut with guitar lead melodic surety as on Local Boy with its breakneck nostalgia for fast-disappearing youthful concern. The epic seven-minute plus, two-part closer Narrow Minded Social Club seals Stoker’s social engagement tackling the ever present scourge of small town horizons and random violence.
Despite the impassioned confidence it’s not all perfect. The Rifles musical reach and Stoker’s songwriting have thankfully long since the obligatory embarrassing fumble of One Night Stand which lands awkwardly somewhere between the naif and the naff. But hardcore followers will treasure boisterous big biz put-down Fat Cat, the pick of the B-sides and demos such as piano-centred Peace & Quiet.
Elsewhere covers (Bob Marley and The Specials) flesh out a musical game plan which is still advancing now, as they celebrate their first decade together./o:p