Normally, we view a band’s reissued early material in the same way that most people view ebola. But, given the stratospheric rise of The Young Knives over the past year or so, it’s understandable that their first record label is after a piece of the pie. Shifty Disco released The Young Knives first EPs, ‘…Are Dead’ and ‘Rollerskater’, way back in 2002. The two have now been spliced together to create ‘…Are Dead …And Some’, happily coinciding with the band’s Mercury Prize nomination for ‘proper’ album ‘Voices of Animals and Men’.
Trouble is, the youthful inexperience of a band yet to find their voice is all too apparent. Here, The Young Knives’ trademark angular punk is far less polished than their present incarnation, lacking the arch humour of ‘Voices…’, while Henry Dartnall’s vocals are, for the most part, an unlovely squawk. The real – and only – intrigue of the album lies in the way it traces the growth of the band. The observation of a troublesome child on ‘John’ showcases the inklings of their cheeky eccentricity, while ‘Working Hands’ betrays an unexpected debt to Pixies. ‘Rollerskater’ and standout track ‘Walking On The Autobahn’ are both instantly endearing, full of the same hooky brilliance that would eventually make ‘Weekends and Bleak Days’ a hit.
‘…Are Dead …And Some’ isn’t, by anyone’s definition, a great album. But, in showing The Young Knives’ baby steps, it proves to be a lot more interesting than most reissues. Ordinarily, we’d say that this album is for hardcore fans only; but most hardcore fans would probably have the original early recordings to start with. Which makes the whole endeavour, unfortunately, a little bit pointless. But still slightly more welcome than ebola.