There’s young and there’s young, and Goodbooks resemble the fourth-form entrants in a Hogwarts Battle of the Bands. This may explain why Potter minor (for some reason calling himself ‘Max Cooke’) and his crew only yield up four songs – there must be loads of these kids backstage, waiting for their rockschool moment and personally I can’t wait for Ron and Hermione to do ‘Blue Orchid’. That said, four songs from Goodbooks are enough.
Some light industrial clanking ushers us into the presence of this: ‘Jack was born at the end of the 19th century / he married his sweetheart at the age of 23’. This is ‘Passchendaele’. It mixes ingredients you don’t see together very often – brainbox new wave and the bloodiest battle of World War One – into a subtly regretful tale of Albion, propelled by guitars suitably described as ‘angular’, and adorned with a chorus to make Peter Doherty weep with empathy.
Nothing else flies quite that high, though the single ‘Walk With Me’ runs it close. For all the obvious dues paid to, yes, Franz Ferdinand (and frankly, those boys are just raking in the musical protection), it stands proud in its own right. The nagging hook and mixed-up tempos would sit just as comfortably all over your radio as the Glasgow guvnors’ last or next release.
Goodbooks’ songs have smooth lines and tender melodies (they have supported the Magic Numbers, after all), but these get nicely roughed up in performance with ragged not-quite harmonies and the band’s likeably dishevelled approach.
Their time may be soon: four all-singing, all-playing boys with a Tiggerish energy to back up the great big obvious chunks of genius seen in ‘Passchendaele’, and with lines like ‘he carried English bayonets in an English way / He smoked German cigarettes on Christmas day’ we definitely want to hear more. Beautiful.
Written by McLaughlin on