Album Review: Welcome To The Walk Alone by The Rumble Strips
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
The Guardian - 80 Based on rating 4/5
There's a tinge of bathetic irony to the Rumble Strips' second album. Despite a vibrant production job from Mark Ronson and commanding orchestral arrangements from Arcade Fire collaborator Owen Pallett, despite its lithe synthesis of in?uences from Ennio Morricone to ska to French chanson, it frequently ends up sounding like the Coral on a sunny-side-up day. The fault chie?y lies with singer Charlie Waller, whose rumbustious voice is a serviceable house plonk compared with the heady vintage of the chansonniers.
On early singles and subsequent debut album Girls And Weather, there was a Dexy’s Midnight Runners-shaped hole that The Rumble Strips would be popped into for ease of categorisation. Nice snug fit it was too. But then, how could you not think of Kevin Rowland's feverish new soul vision when there were Charlie Waller’s aching and elastic vocals sat atop a horn section that propelled and shook every track? Yet a deeper look would reveal, as it always tends to, that any similarities were really just skin deep.
For their second album, Welcome to the Walk Alone, the Rumble Strips hired Mark Ronson to produce. While it may have been a good idea from a commercial sense due to Ronson's rep and track record, musically it did the Rumble Strips no favors, as he flattens the buoyant and rambunctious sound of their debut into something much slicker and reserved. He's not all to blame, since the songs singer Charlie Waller and the rest of the band wrote are more thoughtful and melancholic and less bursting at the seams with energy and life.