Photo Credit: Gaz Williamson
As you read these very words, the Snuts – yes, that’s the band’s name – are probably already old news in the UK. Their debut album, W.L., entered the charts over there at No.1 and achieved the identical feat in their native Scotland (the band hails from Whitburn in West Lothian). So we need to ask ourselves: Are these four guys in their twenties – lead singer/guitarist Jack Cochrane, guitarist Joe McGillveray, bassist Callum “29” Wilson and Jordan “JoJo” Mackay – none of whom ever played in any other bands previously, actually doing that much right?
The answer is, for the most part, a resounding yes. On the lucky thirteen tracks that comprise the main version of W.L., the indie-style Brit-rock performed by the Snuts comes off at every turn as tight, listenable, and best of all, surprising. Quite a few of their songs begin on one musical trajectory and then take an unexpected detour – possibly as far in as half-way – while still remaining consistent. These moments include opening cut “Top Deck” as well as “All Your Friends” and “Glasgow”, all of which enter the room as an acoustic ballad before rocking out quite nicely (the last of this batch of tracks also includes a hint of Big Country, another Scottish band).
The Snuts have drawn comparisons to the Arctic Monkeys, whom the younger band does acknowledge as a major influence (it’s especially apparent in tracks “Juan Belmonte” and the aforementioned “All Your Friends”). Still, they aren’t about the same unlimited kinetic energy that the Artic Monkeys were/are, as the Snuts prefer instead to create a balance, which gives their sound a bit more diversity. Blur are another band listeners will probably be reminded of while enjoying W.L., and to that end the Snuts even have a song called “Blur Beat”, while the title “Coffee & Cigarettes” clearly suggests Blur’s 1999 hit “Coffee & TV.” The drum and bass which open that song, however, will immediately remind the listener of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, along the song then emerges and has a more comfortable and even tamer – though no less effective – version of that 1977 classic.
W.L. has already been issued in a so-called “Deluxe Edition,” which in this case comprises a second disc that includes four additional tracks. None of these songs – all ballads – sad to say, are particularly notable, at least not compared to most of the main record. Overexposure has been the doom of more than one successful new band, so this one might already be at risk of spreading themselves too thin. And while they’re not a punk band – despite having a song called “Don’t Forget It (Punk)”, – the Snuts did, at the request of the record company, alter their original, more off-putting name (you guessed it – it was “the Snots”), which is hardly going to shield them from the inevitable accusations of selling out. Still, the closing track on the main album titled “Sing for Your Supper”, suggests that the Snuts understand about paying one’s dues, even if it’s in a relatively short period of time. Here, the results speak for themselves.