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Simplicity II – Tough on Fridays (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The more things change the more they say the same. That’s what they say isn’t it? And in Tough on Fridays’ world, a lot is changing but so much is also business as usual. Katie may have left the band to pursue a different, you might even say more normal lifestyle, but main songwriter Caleigh is still at the helm regarding the tunes and she has also slipped into the role of vocalist too. And as if to underline their more traditional roots, one where live performance and the quality of the songs is paramount, where substance wins over style every time, not to say that they aren’t a stylish band…you know what I mean….they have released a new brace of songs in the largely forgotten format of an A-side and a B-side record. How cool, not to mention old-school, is that? Tough on Fridays might be a young, cool and happening band but there have always been touches, such as releasing music this way, which ties them to the past and keeps them grounded in what a lot of people, perhaps older, more discerning musical types, including people like myself, might regard as a healthier reality.

And if it is all about the music itself, then this most recent pair of songs from the new look band is the place to start, particularly if we want to see what this new chapter might herald for the future. Right from the off, Party Scene demonstrates that they haven’t lost their low-slung, punkish melodicism, the sort of deliberately loose and swaggering sonic vibe which powered a whole swath of post-punkery and alternative rock movements but which when analysed is a pretty straight forwards style. It makes you wonder then why so few bands get it right, maybe it is more about the attitude with which the music is delivered than the music itself. Maybe. Well, Tough on Fridays always seem to get the balance between infectiousness and aggression just right and they also have an effortlessly cool attitude, so yeah, let’s go with that theory. It’s a track which paints the perfect picture of social hell. A crowded room of people undergoing forced enjoyment according to the rules, and there you are stuck in the middle of it choosing between alcoholic oblivion and a disappearing act. We’ve all been there.

Bad Memories and Wishful Thinking seems to be the brooding aftermath of the previous song, the morning after the night before, metaphorically speaking. The cold, harsh light of day proving a time for self-analysis, of taking stock of what’s wrong with your life and where the future might lead all put to a relentless, scathing guitar riff and solid backbeat.

Rock music seems to have wandered down an ever more restrictive music cul-de-sac of late, so that now it is merely marches to the rigid beat of a humourless drum. Rock and roll was always more fun, it gave us The Stones and punk, and all the sleazy hybrids born of their  unholy union. And Tough on Fridays follow in such a tradition whether they know it or not, and indeed, whether they care or not. The melodies are addictive, the delivery world weary…even at this young age, the beats loose and full of swing, the energy ready to blow and the whole thing sashays, swaggers, boogies, and bops with a mixture of angst and abandonment. And if you want a neat tag line for this first release of the new Tough age, perhaps…its the most fun you can have without being forced to crack a smile! And I mean that in a good way.

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