Little Man Tate
Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy
published: 27 /
Stunning second album and return to form from Sheffield-based group Little Man Tate, who, after a succession of disasters, and despite inevitable Arctic Monkeys comparisons, have returned with a record that owes more to the classic Britpop of Pulp
Talk about rollercoaster rides. Already derided by certain music publications for sounding like that other Sheffield band, things took a distinct turn for the worse for Sheffield's Little Man Tate at the back end of 2007.The demise of V2 left the band sans label and just to top it all off lead singer Jon Windle endd up in A&E after getting his jaw broken in an unprovoked attack outside a Brighton night club. With a string of high profile festival dates cancelled many bands would have jacked it all in as a bad job. Respect then to the Steel City four-piece who, instead of throwing in the towel, knuckled down and knocked out their second long player for Skint Records.
By the band's own admission 2007's debut 'About What You Know' was a slight disappointment: a great set of songs given drab studio production that subsequently failed to capture their hedonistic live shows. No such problems this time round though. Back in the studio in their beloved Sheffield rather than the Lincolnshire outback and reunited with Sheffield legend Alan Smyth at the controls, 'Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy' is the record they so badly needed to make second time round.
Owing more to 80's song birds Squeeze and, ironically, fellow Sheffielder's Pulp and good old classic Britpop than Arctic Monkeys, it all crashes into action with anthemic opening track 'Money Wheel'.Fusing Half Man Half Biscuit riffs with an almost Gaelic-tinged Wonderstuff vibe, it becomes quickly apparent that front man Windle's voice has noticeably matured. Gone are the testosterone-fuelled songs about boozy nights out on the pull as the events of the past year appear to have taken their toll and cast a reflective shadow over his lyric focus ("but to think you're untouchable is not very sensible").
The up-beat rhythms and spiky guitars of initial single, 'What Your Boyfriend Said', provide a brief glimpse of the band of old, but it's the new maturer Little Man Tate sound that comes to the fore on the enchanting 'She Looked like Audrey Hepburn', rightly earmarked as the album's next single. Arguably the most accomplished track they've written to date, Windle's vocal feels more relaxed as the song majestically spirals into one of the best choruses you're likely to hear this year. 'A Shot at Politics' brings to mind 90's Scandinavian popsters the Wannadies and includes the album's best middle eight while current single, the catchy and jaunty 'Hey Little Sweetie' will get crowds jumping at the live shows if perhaps not winning any literature prizes for its lyrics.
The hooks and sing-a-long choruses keep coming thick and fast. 'Face on the Wall' with its jagged guitar slashes and "woo woos" recall the 'Mission Impossible' theme and the staccato rhythms of 'A Little Heart' breeze in and out delivering another of the album's little pop pearls. 'Time for Anything' briefly apes the Libertines' 'Don't Look Back into the Sun' before swerving off into a trademark Little Man Tate chorus. 'Back of the Pub Quiz' is another of the album's many high points: kitchen sink lyrics Jarvis Cocker would be proud of, all floating along on a gorgeously effortless melody line. This leaves album closer 'Shoulder to Sigh On', a radical departure from the band's sonic blueprint with its echoes of 30's dancehalls, to bring the curtain down on proceedings. It's a brave step and one that works well.
So there we have it. Nothing indeed worth having comes easily. Time to ignore the trendy music fashionistas who portray Little Man Tate as washed-up Arctic's copyists. On this evidence, nothing could be further from the truth. From start to finish their second album shimmers with well crafted songs, catchy lyrics and soaring melodies. Isn't that what contemporary (Brit) pop music is all about?
What Your Boyfriend Said
Shot At Politics
Hey Little Sweetie
Joined By an iPod
Face On a Wall
A Little Heart
Time for Anything
Back of the Pub Quiz
London Skies London Eyes
Shoulder to Sigh On
The Last Hurrah
I Am Alive
Every Dog Has It's Day