ALBUM REVIEW: The Speedways – Radio Sounds (Snap!! Records/Hurrah! Musica)
If The Speedways had been around in the late ’70s, they would have sold records by the lorryload and been on Top of The Pops every week.
That’s because they make guitar-based power pop which owes as much to classic rock ‘n’ roll as it does to new wave chops.
They refer to their sound – only half-jokingly – as ‘Ronettes punk’ – and have been compared to Elvis Costello & The Attractions at their imperious best.
Wearing influences such as the Beatles, Cheap Trick, Ramones and Tom Petty on their sleeve, they write timeless songs about falling in love and having your heart broken.
The band were formed in London in summer 2017 by singer-songwriter Matthew Julian, who had already recorded their debut album, Just Another Regular Summer, by himself. He was offered a festival slot, put a band together to play his songs, and realised from the interest they sparked that the idea might have legs.
He put together a band featuring members past and present of Los Pepes, the Godfathers and Dead Meat, and they’ve been compared to Elvis Costello & the Attractions at their spiky This Year’s Model best.
This is the first album Julian (lead vocals, guitar) has made with Mauro Venegas (guitar & backing vocals), Adrian Alfonso (bass & backing vocals) and Kris Hood (drums), and while it’s undoubtedly retro-sounding, it’s also a breath of fresh air.
Don’t be fooled by the title of the opening track This Ain’t A Radio Sound; every one of the 12 songs here could be a single.
Daydreaming and Your Brown Eyes Look So Blue are full of catchy hooks and melodies, and both are feelgood songs which can’t fail to lift your mood.
This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun is slightly more melancholy, but just as enthralling, and recalls hugely underrated ’80s indie band Diesel Park West (remember them?) while Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts could have been written by Nick Lowe.
Number Seven reminds me of late ’70s new wavers like The Jags, The Barracudas and Any Trouble, and you get an idea what they sound like live with the two CD bonus tracks, which are raw four-track demo cuts of Daydreaming and Empty pages.
Derivative? Definitely. Original? Not particularly. Ebullient, upbeat and full of good hooks? Absolutely. 8/10.
- You can get both of The Speedways albums, plus singles including their covers of Kirsty MacColl’s timeless They Don’t Know and Billy Ocean’s pop classic Love Really Hurts Without You from their Bandcamp page HERE.