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Superkings - Secret Chiefs

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 25 / 1 / 2007

Superkings - Secret Chiefs
Label: Feedback
Format: CDS


Promising and sometimes special new EP from Northern group Superkings, one of the definite tips for 2007

The first time your reviewer heard the Superkings, they didn’t appear to have played a gig outside their native North West England. That’s a shame because, if nothing else, the world deserves to hear 'Hit the Ground Running', the stand-out track on 'Secret Chiefs', the band’s new EP. But first things first, and the opener, 'Requesting Balance', doesn’t show a lot of promise, to be honest. It’s basic rockabilly-indie by numbers, and is perfectly fine as that goes, but not much more. The next song, 'On the Broads', could have been made by a different band – not only is it more Badfinger or Supertramp than the Deltones, it’s utterly self-assured and competently put together.. 'Little Hope' – “ a little hope is a dangerous thing when you’re trying to deal with a wedding ring” – suggests that the band have been channelling Billy Joel and John Lennon. 'Phantom Limbs' is a reasonable step in the same vein, if a little overwrought and, like much of the album, a little over-reliant on the piano’s sustain pedal. Things step up a gear for 'Nathan Rosen', which takes a leaf from Queen’s early albums, before things got too silly, and 'Hey Boy' is similarly influenced. It gives lead singer David Wright’s superb voice a decent workout, but it’s on the next track that he’s really stretched, and to stunning effect. 'Hit the Ground Running' is one of those songs that, on first hearing it, makes all the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Coldplay, for all the derision poured on them for their derivative early work, are one of the last bands to come close to this. And that comparision is apt for this song, which borrows its piano style and rhythm from the stadium fillers. With Pete moody taking over the vocals for this number, his whimsical turn of phrase – “I can’t decide if she’s a rich girl, or practises her walking” – however rescues 'Hit the Ground Running' from blandness. It’s his voice, which sounds like a weary, beaten, battered thing but still manages to soar in the chorus, that makes it something special. It’s a piece of music so epic you can practically see the thousands of cigarette lighters swaying back and forth inside a packed Wembley Stadium. It’s not all good news, though – it’s a hard ask to follow 'Hit the Ground Running', and, sure enough, the live recording of 'Anna Stanaway’s Flugelhorn' doesn’t manage it. It’s a pleasant enough ditty, but it doesn’t quite jibe with the rest. Still, that doesn’t detract from the wonder of the rest of this EP. The Superkings are a definite tip for 2007.

Track Listing:-
1 Requesting Balance
2 On The Broads
3 Little Hope
4 Phantom Limbs
5 Nathan Rosen
6 Hey Boy
7 Hit The Ground Running
8 Anna Stanaway's Flugelhorn

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