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Red Rum Club – Western Approaches (Modern Sky UK)

There can’t be that many bands that can play both the 400-capacity Stoke Sugarmill and the 11,000 seater arena in Liverpool on the same tour, but it shows the adoration there is in their hometown for Red Rum Club.

And it’s a love that they are hoping that album number four Western Approaches is now going to accentuate all over the nation.

2019’s debut album Matador, their lockdown record The Hollow Of Humdrum, and 2021’s How To Steal The World are a trio of barnstormers with nary a bad song on any of them, and it would have been easy for RRC to carry on in their light pop vein that each record has brought further to the fore, whilst leaving behind to some degree the ‘Scouse Americana’ label that their earlier, more trumpet led material had in spades.

In a video posted a while back on their socials, singer Francis Doran explained how it was now well within their grasp to possibly get a number one record with this album (the highest any of the previous three got to was 34, another barometer of the head of steam they are building) which would be a remarkable feat.

So the question is, is it worthy of such a chart-related honour? (Spoiler alert: yes it is).

Taking more time over Western Approaches has suited them, this is an even stronger set of tunes compared to those that have gone before, they seem to have gone back to basics, to how they started and it’s a harder, faster, stronger Red Rum Club that we are dealing with here.

Opening with a short message in morse code, it booms straight into the grandiose urgings of two of the previously released singles from last year, ‘Godless’ and ’Black Cat’ and the scene is very much set, the furiosity in their sound is breathtaking, they sound very much like they mean it.

There’s soaring trumpets, urgent vocals and a scorching, roaring drum beat. It’s an hell of a marker that they are laying down here, and you wonder whether they can keep up this pace. ‘Afternoon’ sees them relax slightly and with last year’s ‘Undertaker’ and recent release ‘Hole In My Home’, they turn up the infectious pop dial to 11.

There’s always a worry when 4 of the first 5 songs have already been released that they’ve front loaded all the big tunes early doors and the rest will not hit the heights of what’s gone before, but there’s no danger of that here. it’s a record that sounds like it’s been made by a band who know that this is their big chance and they have gripped it and will not let it go, there’s  no danger of any quality levels dropping here.

The second half shimmers as much as side one, ‘Houdini’ and ‘Alive’ would fit in seamlessly into their last two records, with more of a thoughtful and fragile edge, the material always seems personal and relatable without ever being cloying and Last Minute carries on that tradition, a beautiful, poignant standout.

If there’s still one big single in the locker waiting to be released and have a similar impact to their breakthrough track and live closer ‘Would You Rather Be Lonely’ from Matador, then it’s got to be ‘Daisy’’, which is catchier than the mumps and just a three minute bundle of glee that’ll have the chorus springing back into your head in all of life’s quieter moments.

As always, they leave the slightly odd curveball till the end, and here it’s in the form of ‘Jigsaw Shores’, which has a different feel to the rest, there’s hints of The Coral in there whilst being no less of an earworm, and could be a pointer to what is to come in the future, letting themselves go down different sonic routes.

This is an album built to be heard live, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to hear it, there’s the UK tour, US dates to follow and no doubt loads of festivals this summer, but until then soak it in, learn the words to shout back at them, and help them get that number one slot.

You’ll be rewarded with yet another album of pure joy with no dips and no bad tracks, it’s the Red Rum Club way.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.