It would be easy to lump the Rumble Strips in with the current fleet of mainstream Brit-rock bands (Razorlight, the Kooks et al) that inspire fanaticism and contempt in equal measures. In reality though, such a fate would be slightly unfair on the foursome, not because they deviate from the traditional guitar-bass-drums combination that is the staple of such bands (though the trumpet and sax make for a refreshing change, admittedly), but because one suspects they harbor no intentions of global musical domination, rather a simple desire to create danceable pop tunes. Which is, thankfully, something they do rather well. The title track here revels in its own simplicity (it is, naturally, an ode to an alarm clock), and is all the better for it; the bouncy horn and contagious rhythm conspiring to make the drama of Charlie Waller’s cries all the more impressive. Much of the EP continues in this vein; well, all of it, in fact. The opening melancholic whimsy of “No Soul” soon jumps into life with Henry Clark’s energetic ska trumpeting, while “High Street Heaven” is similarly lively. From thereon, the only real surprise Alarm Clock throws up is a frolicsome cover of “The Boys are Back in Town”, but then you feel the Rumble Strips aren’t really about surprises. What the Rumble Strips are about is getting people moving, feet tapping, bodies dancing, and you sense that—live, especially—this is something they’d be good at. Alarm Clock is no musical revolution, but—for fans of Dexy’s Midnight Runners and the Zutons, in particular—it is an enjoyable, well-executed slice of pop music. In any case, this won’t be the last we hear of them.
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