If you consider the extraordinary success that Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ achieved under Mark Ronson’s production, it's little surprise that The Rumble Strips were only too happy to let Mr Ronson take stewardship of their second album ‘Welcome to the Walk Alone’. Ronson’s work for Winehouse spawned million after million of album sales, but let’s not forget that The Rumble Strips aren’t Amy Winehouse.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t likenesses. The Rumble Strips second long player is as retro as Winehouse’s second album and vocalist Charlie Waller has almost as distinctive voice as the illustrious female singer. But the immediate feeling here is that Ronson has aimed to spawn the same success he did from Winehouse with the Strips. Surely if you then throw in some Franz Ferdinand atmospherics and Last Shadow Puppets style you’re onto a winner then? Well not exactly.
Lead single ‘Not the Only Person’ is beefed-up production-wise but has a simple and rather forgettable chorus which slips from the memory by the time the next track plays. ‘Dem Girls’ and ‘Raindrops’ are boring and lacklustre, imitating the Zutons and attempting to squeeze out some overdue heart on sleeve passion. At times it feels like the mega production job has sucked the very soul out of this record.
There are a few reasons to be cheerful though. ‘London’ is a fast paced pop track which pulls of the retro style in spades while ‘Running on Empty’ could be plucked straight out of a Western as the final shootout occurs. The dramatic guitar and sinister bass give you a shot in the arm and make you feel like there’s life in there somewhere.
Overall though, ‘Welcome to the Walk Alone’ is stained with the influences of the current indie scene, Dexys Midnight Runners (of course) and the retro success of Ronson's tour-de-force 'Back To Black'. It doesn’t flow smoothly and it’s just a bit, well, flat.
The retro-chic has been lost in an oblivion of over-production and over-blown emotion and the consequence is that the Strips have spectacularly failed to deliver.