Album Review: Young Rebel Set – Crocodile

By on Thursday, 10th October 2013 at 12:00 pm

Young Rebel Set Crocodile coverTwo years on from their brilliant debut album ‘Curse Our Love’, Young Rebel Set are one member lighter but showing no signs of slowing with the release of ‘Crocodile’, their sophomore effort. If you were wondering about the title of the LP, no, the the Stockton-on-Tees band have no designs on becoming reptile keepers, nor are they avid reptile pet collectors. I don’t think, anyway. In a feature with, guitarist Mark Evans explained that ‘Crocodile’ is actually a reference to a moment in the film ‘The Krays’, about the gangster twin brothers mentioned in Morrissey’s ‘The Last of the International Playboys’ when the two showed a twin telepathic connection in front of their schoolteacher. For Young Rebel Set, the imagery proved strong and exactly the kind of synchronicity they hoped to achieve in recording the album in Glasgow with frequent Mogwai collaborator and producer Paul Savage.

I have a serious question. Is being loved by Germany the kiss of death for English bands? It seems to have been the way for Hurts, who seem to have also become as revered as gods in Eastern Europe and Russia too, while struggling at home. When ‘Curse Your Love’ came out, I had been advised that Young Rebel Set, similarly, had a large fan base in the Fatherland. The bands don’t look alike or sound alike, so I can’t figure this one out. However, the longest song on ‘Crocodile’, clocking in at over a long 5 minutes, is ‘Berlin Nights’, which might just be a melancholy love letter to Deutschland, as frontman Matty Chipcase recalls “the cold of Berlin nights” in the middle of an affair, while wondering out loud, “who’d want to heed the one who’s carrying the weight of all the world? There must be colour in your eyes.” I like the song, I just think it could have been shortened and made tighter.

Single ‘The Lash of the Whip’ (single review here, Video of the Moment here) was the perfect choice as the first taster of the album, as it’s got echoey effects on the vocals and guitars and a jaunty rhythm that keeps it from being too serious. And it’s terribly infectious, like a more fun and debauched ‘Lion’s Mouth’. It’s located three songs into the album, after which time if you became a fan off the back of ‘Curse Your Love’, you’re probably wondering where the piano went. It isn’t until track #5, ‘The Girl from the 51’, when you’re rewarded with what sounds like an inspirational song to “Josephine, your heart was broke but strong / you refused to give up, and live on / you lost yourself and that’s all you’re a part / and you can decide where you belong”. It’s a little downbeat though. So where best to go next?

‘Another Time, Another Place’ vies with ‘The Lash of the Whip’ for standout track on ‘Crocodile’. (Get the track for free when you sign up for the band’s mailing list here.) Fuelled by exuberantly rocky guitars with Chipcase’s growly voice at the start until the song opens up at the chorus to become entirely winsome, even when he’s singing rather morbid thoughts like “before the reaper comes around and lays me 10 feet underground”. The song shows the protagonist’s inner conflict of being in love (“I hate that boy I know I used to be / so careless with love”) while acknowledging that a girl turned him into a person he did not want to become and/or destroyed him (“maybe if it had been another time, another place / then maybe I’d have walked away, but she pulled me back to the wrong side of the tracks / and bent my mind and left me astray”), yet, like I said, it sounds euphoric. Maybe it’s another case of a songwriter purposely trying to confuse us?

If we’re comparing this album to ‘Curse Your Love’, ‘Tuned Transmission’ comes across as a less tender but an equally relationship-generous ‘If I Was’. ‘Show Your Feathers and Run’ has its sweeping audience participation moments in the choruses that threaten to rival those in ‘Walk On’. ‘Unforgiven’ (live below) and ‘Where Have I Been Going?’, which can be thought of as solo acoustic numbers, remind you that this endeavour began as Chipcase’s solo career until he brought on five other musicians to help realise his vision. But there was something more sentimental and heart-wrenching about ‘Bagatelle’.


But what’s really missing here are the obvious festival-type crowd pleasers like ‘Walk On’, ‘Borders’ and ‘Fall Hard’ that made Young Rebel Set’s debut such a force to be reckoned with. I know when I had named ‘Curse Your Love’ one of my favourite albums of 2011, I was sharing a very unpopular opinion directly in opposition to people who marginalised this band with unfavourable comparisons of them with Mumford and Sons. I still think Young Rebel Set is the better songwriting band of the two, but for some reason ‘Crocodile’ left me less than excited. I still haven’t seen this band live yet, so maybe I will eat my words if I ever hear these new songs live up against the older ones and I am surprised.


‘Crocodile’, the second album from Stockton-on-Tees band Young Rebel Set, is out now on Ignition Records.

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5 Responses

12:02 pm
10th October 2013

New post: Album Review: Young Rebel Set @youngrebelset’s second album ‘Crocodile’ out now on Ignition Records:

12:55 pm
10th October 2013

Didn’t love this as much as I thought I would 🙁 “@tgtf: Album Review: Young Rebel Set @youngrebelset’s ‘Crocodile’

[…] Teesside band Young Rebel Set have unveiled this live performance of their frontman Matty Chipcase performing ‘Yesca & the Fear’, the opening track of the band’s second album ‘Crocodile’, released this autumn. What a gorgeous rendition. Read my review of the LP here. […]

[…] acoustic guitar performing ‘Yesca & the Fear’, from the band’s second album ‘Crocodile’ now out on Ignition […]

[…] ‘Crocodile’, Young Rebel Set’s latest album, was released in the autumn. Catch the band on tour in February and March; they’re also playing a Middlesbrough Christmas show on the 23rd of December. […]

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