Think Before You Speak
Somewhere, there’s a music writer agonizing over which moniker to slap upon the type of guitar pop Good Shoes—and countless other artists assembly-lined out of England these last three years—deliver on Think Before You Speak. May we suggest Ladpop? Good Shoes’ debut is a study in UK Laddism’s touch points: sharp-edged, effects-free melodies animated enough for club nights (think the Futureheads); narratives about getting pissed and potted (Arctic Monkeys); and a sort of declawed provincialism (the Maccabees). The trouble is, the album offers few original takes on that aforementioned guitar sound or sheds little new light on what’s rotten in England today. For every track like “Morden”—a pejorative, energetic homage to the band’s London home in which vocalist Rhys Jones rails everything from minacious skinheads to gentrification gone awry—there are three like the plodding, derivative “In the City,” where Jones sounds plain disinterested in the suffering accrued by his heroin-hooked protagonists. Ironically, Good Shoes nicks that song title from the Jam, one of the very titans they emulate in sound and substance. And what the Jam possessed, Good Shoes certainly lacks: the ability to artfully advance a genre.