NARCS – Two Birds, One Stone Later

NarcsWhen I think of Yorkshire, three things come to mind: tea, puddings, and hard-edged indie rock. NARCS, a four piece from Leeds, fall firmly into the latter category.

This impressive debut album, Two Birds One Stone Later, took only two days to record, being steered by Simon Humphreys a producer with the pedigree of The Clash and Marc Bolan. It’s described as “uncovering uncomfortable truths”, and is consistently gutsy, with their vocals, drums and guitars all having direction and purpose.

The band poetically presents a dystopian picture of today’s society, with the awareness of The Libertines, but more Northern. Comparisons with Arctic Monkeys have already been made, predominately due to the bands regional accents. Although these associations are well meaning, they are not very helpful, as the guys deserve recognition on their terms.

The band work together well, tightly combining and complimenting each other. The defining feature of the album is the vocals, which everything else rests on. The instruments are still played with finesse, as a riffing guitar, melodic bass and solid drumming are all there. The album carries the political disillusionment of The Smiths, especially “19”, their strongest offering lyrically. The track is blessed with an anthemic chorus, and was a sound choice for their debut single.

Two Birds One Stone Later has arguably three other single worthy contributions: “Creatures”, “Coast to Coast” and “Karaoke”. These are easy to imagine being heard over the radio, and chanted at sweaty gigs, without ever descending into the blandness of pop culture.

It’s obviously a deeply personal album, with the effort and consideration gone into the song writing much appreciated. My personal pick would be “Coast to Coast”, which combines a macho persona, with touching lines such as, “the bitter cold never felt so warm”; although, this recommendation might be because I’m a romantic sucker, rather than any objective yardstick of real quality. There are occasions were the metaphors are lost, however, this is perhaps more the fault of the reviewer than the songwriter.  With the exception of the concluding “Tall Grass”, every track is lyrically concise and punchy in nature, the way gritty indie rock should be. The album leaves no room for vanity, and confidently keeps to the point. It is the nouvelle cuisine of song writing, deceptive in its apparent simplicity, but can leave the listener wanting more.

Release: 2nd September 2013, Clue Records

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