The Pigeon Detectives - Up, Guards and at 'Em

by Al Brown Rating:3 Release Date:2011-04-04

Everyone with a brain hates the Pigeon Detectives, mainly because they are a dull band with a penchant for misogynistic lyrics. Full disclosure: I saw them play a festival in 2006 just before they "got big" and they were really good. Some context is probably required: the band iLiKETRAiNS played before them and were just utter shit - this was a band who made a concept album about the Beeching Report: they were boring in ways other post-rock outfits can only dream of. So yeah, The Pigeon Detectives came on, launched into one of their early singles, and totally owned the place. 'I Found Out' and 'Don't Know How to Say Goodbye' in particular were and are two-minute bangers - if the Undertones had written 'I Found Out' you'd all love it.

Obviously they've done nothing of worth since - their second album was full of hateful kiss-offs to (very lucky) women; the critical mauling was well deserved. On this album, perhaps chastened by those reviews, they're (mainly) avoiding that odious lyrical territory - but that leaves them with nothing to say. Their first record was full of youthful lust and stupidity, the second was bitter and myopic, the third has nowhere to go, nowhere that is, except constant cliché. 'Done in Secret' features the lyrics "You could put my back against the wall/ Or take me outside/ What are you waiting for", repeated endlessly, and there's about four other lines of lyrics, none of which mean anything. That's it: just the same three couplets going round and round, a boring three-note riff, a quiet bit, a loud bit - bish-bash-bosh: job done! It's low-effort even by their own miniscule standards. "You got your hands caught in the till/ But still you're firing at will!" whines Matt Bowman in the next song, totally oblivious to his own ineptitude. Maybe someone will give him a job on Match of the Day: "Game of two halves son! Bob's your uncle! Back of the net!" I can totally see it.

It's not all total shit: 'Turn Out the Lights' sounds like 'What Ever Happened?' by The Strokes, with worse lyrics obviously. Final track 'I Don't Know You' finally brings some musical experimentation, with a fairground organ playing a ska-rhythm and reverb-drenched vocals reminiscent of fellow Leeds band Spectrals. It's decent but also makes you wonder why they couldn't have been a bit more adventurous with the rest of the album.

As with Alex Turner, Matt Bowman's Yorkshire accent makes him sound cynical even when he (probably) doesn't mean to, giving every song a world-weary feel. The thing is, being misanthropic without the intelligence to back it up doesn't make you a misanthrope - it just makes you a dick.

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