They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is not strictly true, and case in point is The Pigeon Detectives. Rushing their second album ‘Emergency’ did them no favours at all, conjuring up images of a band that had run out of ideas, not to mention steam, far too quickly. ‘Wait For Me’ was a refreshing listen, full of vibrant and direct indie-pop songs, but the follow-up (‘This Is An Emergency’ aside) sounded like its reheated leftovers. They seemed to be dead in the water; indeed, the more scathing among us could say that the album title was an apt summation of its contents.
Taking much more time with their third album than they had previously (the gap between the first two was just a year; ‘Up, Guards And At ‘Em!’ has been in the pipeline for almost three) has given them a new lease of life. The cynics will say that a good album by The Pigeon Detectives’ standards is a mediocre one at best by most other bands’, (and it is admittedly quite hard to approach this album without prejudice, especially as its predecessor was so disappointing), but their new album doesn’t deserve that treatment. It’s a good album, full stop.
The energy that previously defined them is still there, only now it has been distilled into songs that sound fresher and relatively more ambitious than what came before. Time spent in the wilderness has taught them valuable lessons, and they’ve taken these on board with little difficulty. By the time electronics-infused lead single ‘She Wants Me’ has finished, there is a sense that they had quite a rethink and decided to shuffle the decks a bit. Only a bit, but as a certain supermarket chain is fond of telling us, every little helps. Meanwhile, ‘What You Gonna Do?’ sounds like they were influenced by Bloc Party and their ilk, its razor-sharp riff lending the song some serious bite.
There are also some mid-tempo ballads on offer (and this is the point where many of you will stop reading. That prospect isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds, honest) which provide a nice change of pace. ‘Turn Out The Lights’ comes two-thirds of the way through the album and proves that the band aren’t afraid to take risks. Yet ironically, the best song on the album is ‘Done In Secret’. The fact that it gets this accolade is ironic because ‘Up, Guards And At ‘Em!’ mostly finds the band looking to the future, yet this song is the one most reminiscent of previous material. Its irresistible melody and soaring bridge passage help it to shine. The album title is this time most definitely indicative of what this album is about (even if it is an Arthur Wellesley misquote). The Pigeon Detectives 2011: rejuvenated and raring to go.