If it was as problematic as its title might allude to, The Difficult Second Album from Duncan Reid and The Big Heads has no intentions of showing it within its fluid and mischievous power pop revelry. The trickiness of following an impressing debut is one of those issues which is arguably more imagined and supposed than generally realised, and certainly there is no hint of anything but an equally thrilling and potent encounter from Reid for his second solo offering. Spawned from the same punk and pop rock devilry which marked its predecessor and its creator’s career, The Difficult Second Album is a contagious romp which explores more power pop essences this time around but still provides an instinctive and inescapable incitement of hook laden rock ‘n’ roll.
Reid’s impact and inspiration on punk rock came as bassist/vocalist of melodic punks The Boys, an outfit which Joey Ramone declared his favourite band in the eighties, and indeed that decade saw Reid alongside fellow Boys member Casino Steel provide backing vocals for the live version of The Ramones hit, Baby I Love You. Alongside band founders Matt Dangerfield and Steel, as well as Honest John Plain and Jack Black, Reid and The Boys released four albums and a host of singles before splitting in 1981.Eighteen years later the band reformed for a couple of shows in Tokyo, which in turn eventually led to a full comeback and tours across varied areas of the world. Leaving the band in 2011, Reid set about recording his debut solo album Little Big Head which gripped attention and appetites upon its release in 2012. Now he returns with its successor and another excursion into majestic power and punk pop.
With multi-instrumentalist Alexander Gold, guitarist Sophie Lynch, and drummer Ciara Lavers alongside him, Reid and the band swiftly light up ears and appetite with opener Another City. Within a breath melodies are teasing and captivating whilst crisp beats and a dark bass seducing are adding their potent coaxing to the songs immediately catchy invitation. It is not long before the tones of Reid bring their distinctive hues, his voice somewhere between Ste McCabe, Pete Shelly, and Ian Broudie, and fuelling the track with even greater temptation. With suggestive melodies dancing on the senses, the song is a lively croon setting the release off in fine and magnetic style.
The strong start is instantly surpassed by the outstanding Baby Doll, its entrance a flight of Devo-esque keys bred persuasion which has the imagination in the palms of their colourful hands. Nestling into a minimalistic stroll with a tangy bassline escorting Reid’s compelling narrative, the song lyrically as intriguing and enthralling as the sounds it casts, it is in no time a devilish treat. With an even pace even through its mini crescendos, the track persistently inflames and ignites ears with spicy enterprise and Pixies like imagination across its singular rhythmic direction. The song is an early pinnacle for the album backed strongly by C’est La Vie, a juicy pop infused blaze of bracing riffs and glowing harmonies. Admittedly at its strongest in the verses rather than the hazy choruses, the track is a magnet for the passions and vocal participation, raising an eager smile at every turn of its mischief.
Both End of the World and Joe keep things bubbling vivaciously, the first of the two a weave of incendiary rhythms and flavoursome chords which at times are early Undertones like and in others more like The Briefs, whilst the second is a riveting drama of Beatle-esque melodrama and melodic rock colouring with a gorgeous breeze of melancholic strings matched by keys. Though neither can quite match those before them, each adds a rich new shade to the character of the album and a treat for ears to devour before Just As Good As I Used To Be unveils its quaint balladry. It is a slow embrace and admittedly persuasion until it suddenly erupts into a fevered pop punk stomp which in turn ignites the already appealing vocal lures with extra spice and energy. From its appealing but underwhelming start the track turns into the life of the party and feeds the greedy appetite now in place for the album with its exciting The Freshies like revelry.
Little Fingers and Toes steps up next and straight away is flinging spicy riffs and hooks which spark in the imagination with Rezillos like radiance. It should be stated that for all the references and reminders moments in songs inspire they more often than not are fleeting or simple essences which only spice up the unique propositions. The song itself has a curled lip to its presence, a belligerence which is all punk rock and lingering attitude, even as contagious hooks and vocal harmonies steal attention. As across the album, the excellent encounter is unfussy and to the point but still a masterful web of textures and sounds dragging feet and emotions into its persuasion with sublime ease.
The initially folk lilted Long Long Gone is next and strides with a blues flame to its accomplished design and air before making way for Not The Kind of Guy Girls Hug, another song with an open whisper of Lennon and McCartney to its charm. Adding another enjoyable twist to the album, the song still lacks the spark of its predecessors though admittedly that is more personal taste driven than any shortcoming in its skilled persuasion, though it is soon forgotten as One Night in Rio uncages its rock ‘n’ roll rampage. An out and out punk stomp with a blues rock underbelly, the track is the kind of song Reid has become renowned for which is hungry punk rock at its melodic and insatiable best, this track offering a great Ramones meets Eddie and the Hot Rods tasting.
The thrilling success of the song is instantly emulated by Wasting Time, this showing distinct and sultry personality with its first flame of blues and surf rock enriched glaze of guitar. It is a tempting which never leaves the rigorous lure of the song, only lays in wait during moments of predatory riffing for the chance to again soak subsequent melodies and harmonies. A radiant gem of a suasion for body and emotions, the song leaves for closer When We were Young to bring the infectious shindig to a close. Toying with synth rock and indie pop within its alluring body, the track is a tenaciously satisfying end to a release which makes you groan in disappointment once its last note is cast.
The Difficult Second Album hits the sweet spot time and time again across its nostalgia and modern infused body, and even when it misses the target for individual tastes, it still leaves a feverish and lingering wake which only leads to a hunger for more.
The Difficult Second Album is available now via LBH Records @ http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MPNSP9I/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00MPNSP9I&linkCode=as2&tag=uberoc-21&linkId=N5K5ZLSPALFB6SUJ
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