Hot new British bands pop out of the woodwork of run down factory towns faster than Pete Doherty and Shaun Ryder sharing a kilo. And contrary to NME, not every one of them will be the next Coldplay, much less the next anything. There’s so many new bands out there it’s becoming hard even keeping up on the new terms, like shambolic, whatever that means. Critics and fans alike seem to be on the fence about most of today’s bands, displaying a love or hate relationship with each one. One, if there is any justice, should fall on the side of love, that being the debut album from the 22-20s, a pop/rock/blues conglomeration that is candy for the ears.
The 22-20s are all 20 or 21 years old, though that is not what the band’s name means. The moniker is taken from a Skip James song called “22-20 Blues.” Traditional blues is definitely the backbone of the band, but that doesn’t stop them from including elements from modern British pop, indie rock, a tad Madchester and classic rock. Martin Trimble, the brainchild behind the band, plays guitar like a madman, a combination of Jonny Greenwood and Joe Walsh, and sings like Shaun Ryder, sober and angry about it. Aside from a couple of obvious `single’ attempts at the outset of the album, the self-titled venture is solid throughout.
The first few songs on the album seem to be the songs written to try to get picked up for an iPod commercial with dancing silhouettes, but it is from the third song on that features the meat of the effort. “Baby Brings Bad News” is a throbbing, staggering classic rock effort that can get stuck in your head, hold it hostage, and make it nod up and down, eyes closed, wishing you knew how to play the piano so you could perform along with the band. The album continues on strong footing with “22 Days,” and then gets even better with “Friends,” a Dylanesque ballad. “Why Don’t You Do It For Me?”, one of the best songs on the record, is one of the catchiest numbers in British rock today, with some of the simplest, yet clever lyrics out there. “Shoot Your Gun” continues the run of great songs all in a row, with a Gomez / Beta Band sound. I can’t get over how great this song is, and how it stands up to repeated listens.
“The Things That Lovers Do,” while it may sound like a Van Morrison title, is more akin to early Radiohead, and songs like “High & Dry.” What am I trying to say here? Essentially that the 22-20s don’t get mired in any one style or genre. And even though they pull from many influences, they keep them all under an umbrella strictly their own, making one say not that the band sounds like this or that, but that it sounds like the 22-20s, a huge compliment for a band on their first time out. 22-20s is an accomplished debut from a British band that is sure to be going places, and not just with Graham Coxon who they seem to be touring with this year.
Gomez- Split the Difference
The Happy Mondays- Bummed
The Soup Dragons- Lovegod