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The Xcerts - There Is Only You (Album Review)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 Written by Ben Bland

It’s been four and a half years since the Xcerts released their sophomore album, ‘Scatterbrain’; long enough for you to think the band might have disappeared for good. It’s not that they haven’t been busy – they’ve toured regularly – but, with the British alt-rock scene as crowded as it is, their prolonged absence means that ‘There is Only You’ needs to be something pretty special if they are to make up for lost time.

Thankfully, this is the album the Xcerts have been threatening to make since the beginning of their career. As has become the norm for the band, ‘There is Only You’ kicks off with a brief intro (2.12.12) before surging ahead into sublime power-pop territory with the huge hooks of Live Like This and Shaking in the Water, the album’s lead single. If ‘Scatterbrain’ was the dark sound of the Xcerts giving in to their love of latter day Brand New, then this is the sound of the band unleashing their pop instincts in devastatingly effective fashion.

The Xcerts have never been afraid to write accessible songs, but this is the aspect of their musical identity that they have carefully chosen to emphasise this time around. Huge choruses lie around every corner and, bar 2.12.12, Kevin Costner and the album’s eponymous closer, all of the tracks assembled here are no nonsense exercises in guitar pop.

The second half of the record is particularly potent in this regard, with Teenage Lust beginning a run of four unassailably catchy album highlights before the more reflective title track rounds things off.

Fans of Jimmy Eat World and pre-self parody period Weezer should be all over this album like a rash, especially as Dave Eringa’s production has resulted in a record as slick as anything either group has released in recent times.

Frontman Murray Macleod has described the new album as being “about everything” in his life to date, including some “terrible mistakes” made over the years. Given this, and the fact that the band’s previous material has hardly been lyrically positive, you could be forgiven for expecting these songs to be filled with anger and regret.

However, this comfortably feels like the most confident and upbeat Xcerts record to date.  Even with the demise of Macleod’s long-term relationship, which the album’s title track was initially written in ode to, during recording, ‘There is Only You’ sees the band in triumphant, rather than angst-ridden form.

Still one of Britain’s best young bands then, and still a group in need of far more attention than they have received from the mainstream to date. With hooks like these, if any album is going to get them noticed then it surely has to be this one. The Xcerts are back, and they may have brought the finest British rock record of the year with them.

The Xcerts Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun November 30 2014 - BIRMINGHAM Sunflower Lounge
Tue December 02 2014 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club
Wed December 03 2014 - NORWICH Waterfront Studio
Thu December 04 2014 - SHEFFIELD Sheffield Corporation
Sat December 06 2014 - GLASGOW Oran Mor
Sun December 07 2014 - DUNDEE Beat Generator Live!
Mon December 08 2014 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE THINK TANK at Digital
Tue December 09 2014 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Wed December 10 2014 - LONDON Boston Music Room
Fri December 12 2014 - MANCHESTER Soup Kitchen
Sat December 13 2014 - BRIGHTON Haunt

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