Le Reno Amps - Tear It Open

What it does do, very well in fact, is pay homage to the four-piece’s idols.

Where Green Day meet Johnny Cash is nowhere near as tedious as you would imagine. Le Reno Amps’ brand of Glasgow country-punk-rock carefully treads on firmer ground than the well worn indie crevice, trying not to trip on the all-too-obvious potholes of trite lyrics, faux cockney accents and “let’s sound like The Libertines” melody. Two marks should be awarded for not succumbing to these sins; but we reserve the right to deduct the odd one for not destroying all misgivings of them either.

With the opener ‘Outlaws’ there stretches a disturbingly fraught relationship with the inlaws (outlaws – see what they did there?) above the galloping Western bass and rollercoaster dynamics. Sadly though they veer from this slightly more exhilarating path into a couple of numbers that have ”the greatest song that Ash never recorded” stamped all over them. ‘Slow Decay’ harbours such an American-inflected vocal that it’s sunshine harmonies come with extra sweetness before becoming a little sparkier at the close via a scratch of guitar. The same is true of ‘You Do Your Thing’ that steps over the line of reminiscence into a pretty 90s irritant.

The skiffle edge in ‘Going Under’ shares more with the the Kooks than anyone else – although a version that ripples with genuinely threatening melodies and a tale of plastic surgery. To credit Le Reno Amps, for they deserve it, they may be singing from the same hymn sheet as indie fops, but the important bit is that their references are ultimately much hardier bands like The Buzzcocks. Where the Kooks et al have taken to slaughtering the good name of guitar riffs and drawling yelps, Le Reno Amps know to keep them in check with well-crafted, Pixies guitar lines for the beefing up, and Scott Maple and Al Nero’s voices culminating in a sum a whole lot prettier than its individual parts.

Their fondness for harmonies gives a Carter-Cash feel to ‘Send Me On My Way’, which is by far their most country-trapped track. A duet far sweeter, but one that doesn’t quite bear the neatness of their tricks - evidenced in ‘If You Want a Lover’, whose steely shuffle winds along switching from basic minor chords to all manner of augmentations. These are leant on indulgently but really make the song stand out. It’s lesser, more minimal cousin ‘Body’ features harmonica and gently undulating lap-steel and guitar. These slower, more pawing songs are, sadly, the more convincing and enjoyable sentiments.

It is when they rev themselves up to rock n’ western it seems to the detriment of the songwriting. The propulsive rhythms feel hollow and throwaway, tactless guitars come into play – as they do on ‘Threads’. For this reason it echoes Ash for the middle of the road lapses it suffers. ‘The Stand Off’ ventures towards Queens of the Stoneage in its latter half, continued in ‘Dangerous Boy’s alluring pitch and raging drums – not to mention the vocals. It also deserves credit for the Glasgow accent permeating a final ‘The Gilded Road’ with its sumptuous synth intro, breaking wide open into an almost Iron Maiden assault of guitars.

With some sticky moments, ‘Tear It Open’ is far from the board sweeping success of a sophomore record. What it does do, very well in fact, is pay homage to the four-piece’s idols in a far less copyist style than many of the mainstreamers they are likely to be paired with. If they can nurture their way with a harmony, and nestle it amongst their occasionally ear-splitting riffs, the follow up to this should certainly be something to yeehaw about.

Tags: Le Reno Amps, Reviews, Album Reviews

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