If, after putting on the Tailors first long-play release Wakey Wakey, you’d be thinking that these are country-boy rednecks from Hicksville, Texas then you’d be wrong. I can understand why you may have reached this conclusion, but these are, in fact, a bunch of lads currently residing in London.
Unlike most bands, whose principle obsessions rely in getting in the NME, their hairstyles and out-cooling others around them, the Tailors are proudly different. Their music mixes Americana, folk and country inspirations and sounds truly different in a music scene infested with run-of-the-mill guitar bands and egos bigger than the US defence budget. This album is the first album release from Trash Aesthetics, the label which brought out EP releases by Bloc Party and the Rakes and it is fitting that the Tailors are now in such illustrious company.
Perhaps the best tribute can be made to the songs themselves. These brim with emotion and feeling and can, at times, astound in their ability to ensure the listener is in the same bitter-sweet place as the songs’ protagonists. Lead singer and songwriter Adam Killip has, in these 11 tracks, released a collection of songs which can make even the coldest heart melt. Musically, inspiration seems to have been drawn from pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Wilco, Whiskeytown and even, at times, the Eagles and Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds.
‘Belle-Vue’, the opener is a mid-tempo rock tune which sees the narrator as a waster who seemingly has little going for himself except the chance to go out and get drunk. This nicely sets the scene for the album. ‘Now the Good Times Are Over’ is perhaps the most bitter of all bitter-sweet songs and creates a wonderful feeling of elation out of such seeming unhappiness. The pedal steel is used to great effect on this song, creating mood in a way that only that instrument can. ‘Tales from the Deep’ is a song about a man impressing a woman yet still manages to become a plea to a former lover:
“Don’t think badly of me
Do you think of me always?
I was only saying
What I thought you wanted to hear”
A respected roots based blog in America has said that it could be an outtake from Wilco’s AM album, and it is not hard to disagree with that statement. ‘The Little Things’ is another highlight, the protagonist’s unapologetic look at a flawed and failing relationship which impresses more and more with repeated listens. ‘Lonely Pockets’ is a more upbeat number, seeing the band bang out a brilliant country based knees-up jam number which manages to sustain itself for the song’s duration. ‘Backslap Club’ sees Killip turn his attentions to the self-congratulating music scene and declare the band’s differences loud and proud. Killip’s voice is warm and inviting on this song – as it is on the whole album.
The Tailors have in Wakey Wakey released a very strong debut album. Minor quibbles with the quality of the recording aside which can affect some of the slower, softer songs (others may actually find this endearing though), there is little to criticise . If you’re a fan of Americana then you’ll adore this release. If you’re not a fan then why not take a punt with Wakey Wakey? You may find that, as these English lads have, there is more depth and substance to it than any other musical genre.
This is a stellar release which deserves more praise and recognition than it is receiving. Would the situation have been different if the Tailors were from Hicksville, Texas and not 21st century swinging London? Who knows, all I know is that this is a record which will stay in my CD player for a long time yet.