I'll be the first to confess that perhaps I haven't listened enough to Inner North, so if I feel that The Guild League's recent Speak Up is their best yet it might just be because it's so much more immediate. The band is at their most rocking and Tali makes good use of the formidable set of lungs endless touring with The Lucksmiths has given him. The influence of The Housemartins on the early Lucksmiths must be familiar to everyone, but it's not until now that Tali White (who of course sings and plays the drum in the Lucksmith) has gone all the way and churned out an album that is not only full of perky POP but also lyrics that are both fun and world-toppling. Speak Up? It would be unfair to call it a political record, it's more of a cry for action. The question is: will this Guild League record make you speak up? Or perhaps "there will be no further comment. No defiant fist will lift. These quiet, capitulating eyes will lower, feet will shift. Onto the long, thoughtful orator we will give the shortest shrift." as the subdued "Dead Hour" laments.
The grave subject matter threatens to make any such record a tedious affair, but Tali cleverly steeps his songs in irresistible melodies (like that of "If Not Now...", played at DDOMD last month) and artful wordings (as in "Brains" which contains my perhaps favourite line - "when I tried to explain, I found nothing in your head but brains"). He's also right to put some unexpected elements into the mix, to keep you on the edge of your seats throughout. The backbeat and horns of "Where's the Colour?" would've held up on any Still Flyin' record and "17 Summer" initially sounds eerily like an outtake from Red House Painters' Songs For a Blue Guitar, before switching into New Lucksmiths mode. Tali may have saved his best songs for The Guild League this time, or maybe this is just better than The Lucksmiths' new album First Frost. Get both from Matinée.