Liverpool band Sheepy present themselves as a slightly comic trio a la Supergrass or The Beastie Boys. They make funny videos in which they are in fancy dress and reference household items in their lyrics. However, this is both reductive and a bit of a disservice. Alarm Bells certainly has its light-hearted moments but it also reveals plenty of potential and the promise of something finer.
The video for ‘15 Hours’ features Sheepy fooling around in eighties’ sports gear and moustaches, a Scouse stereotype that will keep on running. At one minute and fifty one seconds this song is a slurp of Red Bull. It celebrates the ‘short blast of energy’ that pop provides and aims to ‘write fifteen songs in an hour.’ It’s a song that does not take itself too seriously but at the same time reveals that Sheepy have a singer who can sing.
Occasionally the tracks have an American quality; ‘Bring The Music Back’ is a neat little pop tune with simple drum, bass and guitar lines. Sometimes there is a bit of a sixties’ vibe such as ‘Oh!’. This is possibly the first song I’ve heard that references McCoy’s crisps (flavour unspecified). Another track that evokes this era is ‘I Want My Baby Alive’. In a marvellous bit of gender reversal, our male narrator sings, ‘I stay awake till you get home’ and describes how he is ‘tearing his hair out’ worrying about his wild girlfriend who is somewhere out on the lash.
There are other comic moments lyrically such as on ‘One Cup Of Coffee’ which is
a narrative about different moments when only coffee can get you through, ‘Ten more hours to wedding day.’ This has the potential to be quite an emotive song but is undercut by the references to ‘Bargain Booze’, ‘Strongbow’ and ‘Big skins’, a style that Dave Gedge made his own. ‘Book’ is also a very funny look at someone writing, ‘I’ve been drinking but you’ve been thinking’ and ‘What have you written? You’ve been writing it for days’.
There are one or two tracks where Sheepy don’t quite pull it off. ‘I’m Coming Home’ is like a country music track but where the vocal doesn’t fit. ‘Bed No More’ is another that seems a bit half-formed like uncooked dough. The main problem with these is that the vocal line isn’t melodic enough and plods along with the bass.
‘Alarm Bells’ is the final track and most reflective track on the album. It feels as if it’s taken Sheepy eleven songs to work up to confessing their real emotion and trusting the listener enough with the news that ‘there is something wrong.’
If this album lacks depth, it is because of the musical genre they have chosen. There is genuine charm in Sheepy’s music and they need to have greater faith that they can dig deeper and reveal more.
Alarm Bells will be released on 7th April 2017 through Blang Records.