With their trademark punch...
Patrick Burke

15:08 1st April 2011

Young Knives announced themselves to the music world back in 2006 with an album cover featuring a scene from an obscure Fenland market town festival, a bass player named The House of Lords, and a sartorial line in tweed jackets and elbow patches that had us all scratching our heads in bafflement.

They proceeded to bowl us all, including the Mercury Music Prize committee, over with spiky, minimal indie pop of the likes of ‘Weekends and Bleak Days (Hot Summer)’ and the fabulous lunacy of ‘She’s Attracted To’. Five years and a couple of albums later, the sessions for ‘Ornaments From The Silver Arcade’ reportedly had the band swapping instruments in order to keep things fresh. Did it work?

Opener ‘Love My Name’ is instant Young Knives in a cup – just add hot water - featuring their trademark punch in the face of an indie hook, and reminiscent of the singles from second album ‘Superabundance’ (‘Terra Firma’, ‘Up All Night’). No surprise then, that this is first to jump off the album and onto a single. From there though, subtle variety is the order of the day. ‘Woman’ swaggers into the sort of disco in which Of Montreal like to gyrate their hips, while ‘Everything Falls Into Place’ is the first clue that straight-faced indie pop is no longer taboo, a premise that ‘Running From A Standing Start’ and later,  ‘Vision In Rags’, do nothing to dispute.

Meanwhile, the delay-drenched high-end guitar melodies of ‘Human Again’ hint at the fact that the Dartnall brothers might have had a bit of indie dance of the ilk of Foals and The Sunshine Underground on rotation of late, while further in, ‘Silver Tongue’ segues into the nigh-on rave up of ‘Storm Clouds’, a chemical-fuelled mash that Klaxons would be proud of.

‘Sister Frideswide’ does its best to retain some level of playfulness, with its tale of a woman of questionable morals, but that aside, the leftfield tomfoolery found in the ode to ‘Tailors’ from debut ‘Voices Of Animals and Men’ is a thing of the dim and distant past.

Young Knives made a definite step away from the oddball of their debut with second album ‘Superabundance’, a record that tamed their eccentricity and brought them to a level of quirkiness more palatable to the record-buying masses. ‘Ornaments From The Silver Arcade’ repeats the pattern, offering a couple of standouts that have the band’s name tattooed all over them (most notably ‘Love My Name’), backed up with a set of perfectly decent and competent tunes that will neither offend anyone nor change anybody’s lives.

There are tracks on here that could have been in danger of sounding like every other two-a-penny indie band, had it not been for Henry Dartnall’s young-upstart-in-the-drawing-room accent and the images of tweed suits and dusty hunting rifles his vocals conjure, a gimmick that, along with a knack for stumbling across the odd belting tune, will probably see Young Knives comfortably through the rest of their musical career.

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