Unless my ears are deceiving me there appears to be a different sound to Blitz kids in 2014. The sometimes snarling vocals from debut LP ‘Vagrants & Vagabonds’ (see ‘To the Lions’) have been replaced by impressive pitch and sustained passion. The instrumentation is clearer and certainly more accomplished. It’s not a case of over production but more than likely a coming of age. One wonders if the alternate-rock quartet from Cheshire are now comfortable in their own musical skin. There were indications of the new sound in the 2013 releases of ‘Never Die’ and ‘Run for Cover’ (the latter of which features on new LP ‘The Good Youth’) and I’m happy to say that the consistency continues abound.
2014 album release ‘The Good Youth’ is the all-important second album from Blitz Kids, released via Red Bull Records on the 20th January 2014. The chanting and heaving choruses are still here but unlike ‘Vagrants & Vagabonds’ there is a little more last-ability to most of this LP. There was a criticism that tracks from the debut album became a little tedious after a few listens but in most cases this isn’t the case here. There is an altogether more positive feeling to proceedings as well, and at times you can’t help but be pulled along with it.
The album was put together by legendary producer John Feldmann (All Time Low, Panic at the Disco, The Used and Black Veil Brides). It was said that Feldmann and Blitz Kids lead vocalist Joe James bumped into each other on a family holiday. After a writing session at Feldmann’s house (Feldmann had to pop-out) ‘Keep Swinging’ was completed. James sent the track to Feldmann the following day and promptly received a call from the producer exclaiming “Joe, that song is going to change your life, I can’t let you leave buddy, change your flight, we need to write”. The remainder of the album was then written in LA through early 2013.
While not everything here offers originality it’s good to see confident songwriting and air punching ‘sing-a-long’ tracks. Maybe i’m being a little premature but this could be the defining make-or-break album for Blitz Kids however I’m confident there is enough festival-friendly material here to cause ripple. If any of these songs are given better than average airplay then there is a good chance these chorus ladened tracks could cross over the live arena with very little effort. In fact some of these songs, while not consciously, are written for audience participation. The punchy chorus of ‘Sometimes’ demands the addition of 400 extra lager soaked voices, while ‘Run For Cover’ has a glorious chorus invented for soar throats.
There are some real negatives here as well though. My mum always told me to keep quiet unless i had something nice to say but i just can’t when it comes to ‘Pinnacle’. It’s so out of context to the rest of the album that i’ve been scratching my head for nearly two hours wondering why it’s here. In fact, so confused was i that i checked the writing credits incase it said “Blitz Kids featuring Justin Timberlake”. Theres also a couple of tracks that lean slightly against the Fall Out Boy sound, from the album ‘From Under the Cork Tree’. It’s not a massive criticism but it re-enforces what i was saying about the lack of originality on some of the tracks.
Luckily the majority of the album is well written and more importantly good fun. I can’t wait to see the content of ‘The Good Youth’ played out to a live audience as i’m hoping i can re-visit a my criticisms from above and say “I was wrong”. In the meantime i’ll continue to listen to the excellent ‘Perfect’ and nod my head appreciatively at ‘Roll the Dice’. Gems, the both of them.
The band has announced a series of dates to promote ‘The Good Youth’. You may still be fortunate enough to get a ticket to one of these venues…