Single Review: City Reign – When You Got It All

By on Friday, 12th September 2014 at 12:00 pm

It’s been about a year and a half since Manchester’s City Reign released their well-received debut album ‘Another Step’. The band will be releasing a new single soon and unlike ‘See What It’s Worth’ b-side ‘Package It Up’ that I reviewed back in January of this year, this song sounds much less poignant, at least on the surface. The difference in tempo is obvious and the overall sound is much brighter and brasher as well, which should make it a firm radio favourite.

As you might have already guessed from its title, ‘When You Got It All’ is about how you look at the things you have in life. As a kid when I couldn’t get my way, my brother would annoyingly reference the Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. In the context of an up-and-coming band such as theirs, this single first addresses the thirst for success can seem unquenchable unless certain goals are met. The accompanying press release even begins with a joke by the writer: he says it would take owning a large yacht and a helicopter for him to have known he’d made it.

I have seen this kind of phenomenon happen before my very eyes with bands I have known when they were first starting up, watching them coming up the ranks of stardom. Fame and money, regardless what your vocation, can be addictive if you’ve been working so hard to get somewhere and it seems you’ve made it. But this single asks, “does it feel the same?” when you have it all? This isn’t asked gently. This is emphatically shouted during the powerful chorus. And really, once you reach a certain level of success, things don’t feel the same because they really are never the same again. To its credit, this single doesn’t favour the obvious direction for rock stars enjoying the spoils, that once ‘you have it all’, things might not actually be for the better. In that way, the song mirrors the sentiment of the Stones’ song probably more than they meant to.

And, just like the stock market and all bands’ trajectories, what goes up must come down. City Reign address this in verse 2, in which frontman Chris Bull emotes, “tell me a reason, there must be a reason / we all owe it to reason, to figure it out / why we’re coming down, why we’re coming down”. Is the forcefulness of this song supposed to reflect the frustration of having met those aforementioned goals and getting to the place you wanted, but finding out what is there is not what you wanted at all? Definite food for thought.


‘When You Got It All’, Manchester-based band City Reign’s next single, is out on the 22nd of September on Car Boot Records.

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