Some bands make music that seems to fit with a certain mood, a certain time. Where was I when I first heard The Rumble Strips? The same physical location I find myself now, but the difference is that back then it was the very height of summer and 'Hate Me' had everything I needed to get my foot tapping and smile widening. Glorious sunshine, a great pop ditty on my stereo – how could life get better?
In the case of my life with The Rumble Strips, and on the evidence of this EP, it couldn't. That's not to say it's time to jump off the roof of the nearest tall building, by any means: singer Charlie Waller's voice is still potently soulful, there's still a high brass quotient and the melodies are as immediate as you like. But over the course of these four songs the quality control is somewhat debatable.
So here's what I would have done: ditch tracks two and four ('Born Bored' and 'Running Away'), then release 'Oh Creole' backed by 'High Street Heaven'. The former, all rasping, funky sax twinned with a chocolate-rich Waller croon, continues in the same glorious vein as the Strips' two previous singles and makes me smile. Ditto the latter, particularly the first thirty seconds. With critical success assured, I'd then send the boys into the studio to write loads more of these and not let them out until the spring, when they would unleash the best British debut LP in years and conquer the world.
Sod this writing lark, I'm off to manage bands...
7Rob Webb's Score