Historically-speaking, of course, there isn’t much love lost between the rose-bearing counties on either side of the Pennines. As attempts to bury the hatchet go, Across The Pennines might be a little like The Game rocking up to Fiddy Cent's doorstep with an armful of Pet Shop Boys records and a bottle of poppers, but at least they’re putting out some decent music along the way.
Opening with Superkings’ ‘Hit The Ground Running’, ATP’s second compilation does exactly that - like a prime bit of Oasis balladry with Elvis Costello on lyrical duties, it transcends the odd trite chord change and winds up a sharply-written, affecting gem. Screaming Mimi’s ‘Gumshoe’ sounds like The Long Blondes, with shades of Metric’s grunge-pop sheen. Make of that what you will, but it is undoubtedly ‘a fair old romp’. Go Faster’s ‘True Love Is Hard To Find (Like An NHS Dentist)’ is a bracing rattle through rollicking Futureheads country, even if the lyrics are more Young Knives at their goofing-off worst: “the kids are on Myspace, parents on Crimewatch”. Yeah, yeah... Grammatics’ twitchy menace is, as ever, a Good Thing, while Modernaire are on target with the dark electronics of ‘Bloodshed In The Woodshed’, a blackly humourous tale of a spurned lover’s revenge which demonstrates a nice turn of phrase: “Oh I’m headed for the gallows/To be callow is such sorrow”.
After which the record takes a turn for slightly vacuous synth-pop – Rochelle’s ‘Party Girls’ is catchy enough in a New Young Pony Club-meets-!!! way, we suppose, while future-schlock merchants To My Boy are admittedly on-form with ‘Messages’, their Phil Oakey-esque, robotic-sounding vocals propelled by a funky two-note guitar riff.
Short, sharp and to the point, Across The Pennines Two is as decent an invitation as you’re likely to receive all year to run for the hills and check out what the north has to offer - find out for yourselves, via the label's Myspace.
7Alex Denney's Score