Photo Credit: Edward Cooke
Though one of the most popular songs from their great 2021 debut album W.L. was “Glasgow,” for a major city in their native Scotland (though they’re actually from West Lothian), the Snuts widen the range of their subject matter quite a bit on their second album Burn the Empire. The title alone suggests we’re going to be hearing more political and social songs. The opening track – which is also the title song – certainly delivers on this (“The world’s controlled by people controlling people // So come on people, burn the empire, bring her to her knees”). Musically, the track is no less compelling, opening with a spoken word session before going to punk, techno, and a hint of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Immigrants Song.”
“Zuckerpunch,” as the title might suggest, takes aim (literal and figurative) at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and what social media has done to erode personal privacy, also commenting: “So walk with me down memory lane // When the phone in your pocket only had a few games” (some of us are old enough to remember when those phones only made phone calls). The way the song is presented even has a bit of a hip-hop-like feel. While overall the Snuts do ape the sound of the Arctic Monkeys quite a bit, they add more than enough touches to give themselves their own distinction.
“13” opens with some creepy horror movie soundtrack-like bells but then also includes an interesting late-’60s Beatles/psychedelic-type instrumental break. “Knuckles” also includes a direct lyrical reference to the Fab Four: “You took a minute // You’ve been punching the light // It’s been a hard day’s night.” The title “Yesterday” might suggest that the Snuts are going for a Beatles hat trick, but the song is not that one, although it is an acoustic ballad in a similar vein.
Though still very much a rock record, synthesizers do dominate a number of tracks on Burn the Empire. “Pigeons of New York” (another title that suggests the band is going for more widespread appeal) runs the gamut between quiet acoustic and more aggressive synth-rock (and back), while “End of the Road” rides along nicely with another bouncy synth, as does “Hallelujah Moment.” “Electronica,” as the name would suggest, is a full synth track but still includes some obvious Britpop and psychedelic ’60s influences.
“Blah Blah Blah,” despite the indifference suggested by the title, is a grand finale of an album closer that combines all the best elements of the tracks which precede it (plus a great weird instrumental break) along with more poignant lyrics: “The talking is cheap, but the dirt is too deep // And I know that you know that they lie // If we’re already censored, we’re already dumb ‘til we die.” It’s unclear which use of the word “dumb” is meant to be conveyed here – i.e. unable to speak or lacking intelligence, but it’s obvious that neither definition describes this band. With Burn the Empire, the Snuts are not only on fire but well on their way to creating an empire all their own.