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In 2007, for some, Good Shoes, sitting pretty amongst a plethora of post-Franz guitar saps like Mumm-ra, GoodBooks, The Rumble Strips and a second album Rakes, were just another reason why we should have a generous amount of beef with ‘indie saviours’ The Strokes, and ‘No Hope, No Future’ will no doubt do little to change that opinion. For others though, Good Shoes’ debut album, ‘Think Before You Speak’, was an unfairly dismissed, spiky pop record of witty, youth-ish observation to cherish. If you’re one of these clever people, prepare to feel very pleased with your knowing self.

By the time ‘No Hope…’ is widely available it’ll be nearly three years since that first album was released. In that time they’ve replaced a member and largely done little else. They’ve certainly not been experimenting with synthesisers, exploring Kraut rock drones or cottoning on to any other recent fad – this new album is still clearly that of an angular guitar band. And yet, Good Shoes have grown up… and grown angrier.

“Everything you do, everything you say, always ends up turning out the same,” purrs singer Rhys with distain to the lightly distorted skulk of ‘Everything You Do’. “I see things another way entirely,” he notes as Good Shoes lurk on in unfamiliar but weighty fashion. Seemingly, this band are done with simply playing giddy, naïve indie pop for teenage pouters.

‘Our Loving Mother In A Pink Diamond’ sounds like brooding Arctic Monkeys (pre Josh Homme/the dull desert house band days); ‘City By The Sea’ a weepy love waltz that reminds us just how beautiful this band’s melodies can be. As for the dashing, tumbling tracks that sound like they’re being played faster than the band can possibly manage, threatening to trip up their own knotted legs at any moment – and they are still here – they all seem to be most influenced by Foals and commercial math-rock. Like ‘Under Control’ (a convincing case for the best track here), which blips and bounces to guitars played above their twelfth frets. The bass-line is more than a little similar to Blur’s ‘Girl & Boys’, and the high hat may well have been lifted from ‘Cassius’ (or any number of disco-punk tracks that have proceeded ‘House of Jealous Lovers’), but it really is too danceable to care about.

So why is ‘No Hope, No Future’ unlikely to garner Good Shoes a hoard of new fans who have until now filed them away in their ‘meh’ archive? There’s two reasons – 1.) It has been 3 years, trends change and stubborn minds rarely do, and 2.) While Good Shoes are clearly a darker, more widely influenced band than they once were, that’s most apparent to those who’ve lived with ‘Think Before Your Speak’ for all this time. Tracks here like ‘The Way My Heart Beats’ and ‘Times Change’ act as a step back for every two forward earned by ‘Everything You Do’ and the aggressive ‘I Know’. This would be a real shame though, because ‘No Hope…’ is yet another Good Shoes album for fans to cherish.

By Mandy Drake

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