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

Bands are very fluid beasts, few run through their whole career with little or no changes in line-up. In fact most bands coalesce around just a few core members who act as the heartbeat of the band, others coming and going as the considerations of life, family, fashion, career, and everything in between plays out around them. It’s a situation that Tough on Fridays have found themselves in of late with Caleigh the sole, permanent incumbent of the band. For now. But it isn’t such a strange place to find yourself, many of my favourite bands quickly settled down into such a position, Mike Scott of The Waterboys, Colin Vearncombe of Black and so on through bands such as Tame Impala and Marina and The Diamonds. She is in good company. Good company indeed.

And the two tracks which make up Simplicity III, the latest double A-side release, shows that for all the change in the shape of the band, the benchmarks have been maintained, the music is in a safe pair of hands.

Lonely Eyes/Pines shows a side to the band that we haven’t seen too much of until now. Tough on Fridays has always been more than at home with the kick-ass rock and roll number, of blending cool indie moves with alt-rock energy. Here they go for something more considered, something more reflective, perhaps even more mature. A slow-burning build up from intimate and raw balladry to high sonic drama, the song gathering weight rather than drive as it goes until it evolves into a blistering balance of poise and power. It’s musical travelling partner, Out of The Blue (The Deep End) is more familiar territory, a sassy blend of alternative rock swagger, grungy abrasion and an almost pop accessibility. Home ground perhaps but still adding something new to the bands musical canon.

Those with long memories will recall a time in the late 80’s and on into the 90’s when, on both sides of the Atlantic, there were movements which threatened to give the mainstream a run for its money by being both accessible enough for the charts and cool enough to find favour with the underground movers and shakers. Tough on Fridays have of late reminded me of those days with their brand of ….I don’t know…subversive indie meets infectious alternative rock….for want of a better description. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what is important is that it is from such a meeting point of styles and ideas that an assault on mainstream music could begin again. Wouldn’t that be something?

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