One of the bright lights leading the explosion of new bands coming from Scotland, the Snuts have always defied expectation and this is no exception. Taking the basic guitar/bass/drum/vocal lineup, they have consistently shown the ability to mix tender songs with raw emotion together with straight ahead Libertines-type punk pop and this album shows their entire range extremely well.
Opening two tracks "Top Deck" and "Always" start the album off as they mean to go on - a quiet acoustic number followed by a pure indie rock track. Yet it's the emotion in these two songs that really show off their true ability as wordsmiths as well as tunesmiths. Reading through the lyrics of "Top Deck" you get the sense that it is really every high and low, every worry coupled with the excitement of being in a band and in life, spewed out in two minutes and thirty-eight seconds.
Song juxtapositions like the opening two tracks are strewn across the album - the spaghetti-western tinged lead-in to "All Your Friends" exploding into a track Blur circa 1994 would have been proud of gives way to the tender singalong "Somebody Loves You" for example. Or the way their ode to their hometown "Glasgow" leads in to the quiet "Boardwalk" only to take us into the aptly titled "Maybe California" before exploding into the rollicking "Don't Forget it Punk". In fact, of all the bands I can think of to compare the Snuts debut to, Blur really is the only one that comes to mind that was capable of mixing the tender with the indie-rock bangers and make it feel like it's completely natural.
If there is one nitpick it's that many of these songs have already been released, yet the exclusion of several key early tracks is a bit of a letdown. Including "Coffee & Cigarettes" rather than the rollicking "Fatboy Slim", and excluding the simply wonderful acoustic track "That's All It Is" or even their fantastic cover "Summer In The City" feels like a misstep, but again that's nitpicking. It has been a long time since a band has come out with a debut album with this much range and this much emotion. They always said they didn't want to be pigeonholed as a band that could only do festival sing-alongs, and with their love letter to West Lothian they have accomplished that mission easily. Keep it up and world domination is sure to follow.