Running with the Wasters
US: 17 Mar 2009
UK: Available as import
Don’t be fooled by the band name: The Takeover UK aren’t about to conquer the world, Coldplay-style, with an all-encompassing appeal and an album to soundtrack our troubled times. But then perhaps they didn’t even consider the connotations when choosing their moniker.
And neither are they from the UK, incidentally, the suffix coming about from the band’s opinion that “all the best bands are from the UK.”
But if we were to take the name literally, in what way could they take over? Well, with a sound that’s pitched between a less-polished Jet and a Dirty Pretty Things without an accomplished tunesmith or the Libertines background, the Takeover UK are probably never going to be huge. So: your local pub rock circuit had better watch out.
Joking aside, an association with pub rock isn’t necessarily a bad thing: Running with the Wasters is a very balanced collection of urchin-rock tunes that sound like they’ve grown up on the street, got their education in some backstreet bar and from the lyrics of an old Faces record, and lived on a diet of beer and cigarettes. But hang on. After a few listens, it appears there’s something … missing. It all just seems a little too balanced, the vocals a little too raw, the choruses a little too obvious, the track running order a little too formulaic. It’s almost as if a couple of record company execs have chanced upon a local band playing in a back room, liked the sound of the hooks on “Running with the Wasters” and “Evelyn”, and a shining dollar sign has appeared before their eyes. Come on, they’re called the Takeover UK and they’re not even from the UK.
And the trouble is, hanging onto the coat-tails of a scene, in this case the one spearheaded by the Libertines way back in 2002, and however good the band may sound, there’ll always be that undeniable feeling of having missed the boat. So, with all this in mind, what’s the best way to review this album?
Listen to each track individually, taken out of its album-running-order comfort zone, and it’s actually surprising how much more they shine. The title track is a driving, yearning expanse of sound that suggests the Takeover UK could mature and grow into a formidable chart-bothering act; “Ah La La” is a brisk, visceral rocker, and “Main Street Crush” is bawdy knees-up, like the sort of thing Jet specialised in on their debut.
But there’s a softer side to the Takeover UK, much like—yes, you’ve guessed it—Jet. “Evelyn” is an infectious beauty, with subtle strings and the sort of chorus that’d get tattooed rock thugs dewy-eyed, and “Denise” is early ‘70s Rolling Stones balladry down to a tee. It’s the sound of a band playing to their strengths and not giving a damn about what you think. Hell, the lack of any real depth for much of the album’s probably deliberate.
So, whilst it’s likely the Takeover UK will never break boundaries, never take music in bold new directions, or—heaven forbid—abandon rock ‘n’ roll for some dance-funk experimentation, as long as they stick to their current (admittedly slightly formulaic and predictable at times) pub rock, at least they’ll always sound like they’re having fun. And even if they’re not for real, having fun’s what it’s all about, right?