The Rifles are an Indie Rock band from North East London, consisting of Joel Stoker (vocals, guitar), Lucas Crowther (guitar, vocals), Rob Pyne (bass guitar), Grant Marsh (drums) and Dean Mumford (keyboard). Since their debut album No Love Lost (2006), The Rifles have established a place in the Indie Rock scene and have gained a modest amount of attention over the years. ‘Big Life’ was released as a double album, and it marks their fifth studio release.
The opening track, Groundhog Day is most certainly a catchy tune, and I reckon it would have done brilliantly in the charts in say, 2005. This does not in any way make it any less catchy or fun of a song; but The Rifles, on their fifth album, seem to be relying on the “nostalgic” sound of the British Indie scene, and don’t seem to be taking any musical risks or evolving their sound very much, so it doesn’t sound very “fresh”. This, to me, almost turns me off my desire to listen to the rest of the album; I could almost predict the tracks’ sound before listening. It took my once before intrigued attitude towards the album down a little. ‘Groundhog Day’ is still a very fun tune, and I would definitely put it down as one of my favorites on the LP.
One track that does stand out to me, is Numero Uno. This track is most certainly one of the most interesting on the record. The all-around fun vibes throughout the track kept me keen, the brisk drums along with the almost-surf-rock guitar had me tapping my feet throughout. This is most definitely the track with the most life in it, and you can tell the band, actually had fun recording; which I didn’t get from a couple songs from the album. The backing vocal on this track in particular are one of the strong points for sure, and really brings the track to life.
Caught in the Summer Rain is again, one of the stronger songs on the album. The strings on this piece work pretty well with the guitar and bass, but I think that the production is at fault here. The strings don’t really merge with the strings (I’m assuming that was the intention because of their soft sound along with the dominant, distorted guitar), but it’s more of a “mash”- this is a very, very easy point to overlook though. Maybe I’m just nitpicking. This is still- in its own respect- a well written tune, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.
I feel as if I’ve been a bit harsh towards this record. But in the least patronising way, for an Indie Rock album it’s really not that bad. Indie Rock has been and gone, and I reckon if this record was released say 10, 11 years ago it would have been widely loved. But I think the recycled sound and the almost generic indie rock vibe really put a downer on this genuinely fun album. So I feel mixed emotions for sure towards this record, I had fun listening to a couple of tracks, but for a lot I was quite uninterested and nothing seemed to really grab me as much as I had hoped. I can only hope The Rifles will push their sound further, as they have proven they do contain the musical talent to do something new, and I reckon a lot of their fans would agree with me on this one.