Chris Helme is probably best know for singing ‘Strap-on Sally chased us down the alley, we feared for our behinds’ as frontman for John Squire’s post Roses** band the Seahorses and it was hard not to feel a bit of sympathy when the grumpy guitarist disbanded the group shortly after their debut album, leaving yet another set of bandmates scattered in his wake. Despite a brace of solo gigs, when Chris disappeared back into obscurity you could have been forgiven for thinking that was the last you’d ever see of him – but almost a decade later he’s back with new outfit The Yards, and this time he’s not about to be sacked for looking at his guitar player funny over breakfast. Or something.
As the cover suggests, 60s tinged retro rock is the order of the day. At their best The Yards sound like an electrified Turin Brakes, particularly on high point 'On the Inside' which benefits from turning off the electric guitar for a bit and allowing some real emotion to show through. Unfortunately though the album lacks any tune on a par with the Brakes**’ 'Futureboy' or 'The Door'. A few too many songs roll by at the same mid-tempo pace leaving little to remember afterwards and only download single _'The Devil is Alive and Well and in DC'_ really rollicks along, nearly sounding like a different band altogether.
It’s a shame as there are real signs of promise; as hinted earlier, the second half of the album steps away from trad-rock stylings into more acoustic territory and sounds all the better for it. Superhuman and closer _Up ‘til Dawn_ are fresher without a guitar fill cluttering up every pause and seem more like the product of hardcore songwriting than a weeknight jam session. But ultimately, while you can imagine this record going down a storm on the Oasis tourbus, the 11 tracks here could have benefited with a little more pruning.
6John Winters's Score