The Cornerstones - Stand In Line Album Review

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rating: 3

What you might gather from the chorus line of the lead single from The Cornerstones' second album 'Stand In Line' ("Send me in to space, take me from this place, then smack me in the face") is that they're another tongue-in-cheek indie pop act in a similar vein to The Wombats. You'd be pleasantly surprised, then, to find that €“ off the cuff lyrics aside €“ this four-piece outfit from West London offer slightly more than just soft dancefloor anthems. 'Stand In Line' sometimes sounds like a lost Stereophonics demo album €“ it's got a sting in its tail but you often get the sense it's more of a collection of songs than an album. Of course, The Cornerstones are still an up-and-coming gang, but the impressive production values of the record almost betrays them this; you find yourself expecting more from them than you really should. To his credit, lead singer Richard Ruth's proficient vocals adapt constantly to match the tone of the somewhat mismatched songs; what begins as a husky-but-harmonious croon not dissimilar to that of Kelly Jones in opener 'Drag Me Down' soon evolves into a softer, more Southern tenor in 'Erased'. Unfortunately, this soon descends into a Noah and the Whale-shaped pit of MOR monotony, only to be pulled out as 'End of Everything' flips the script again; his voice slips into a vulnerable, abrasive texture against the jagged retro riff. The climax to 'My Mind' smoulders like a U2-worthy stadium rock giant, while 'More Than Toxic' takes a dip in the atmospheric waters most recently covered by Bombay Bicycle Club and Glasvegas, in which Ruth's chameleon voice once again melds into the shoegazing rhythm astutely. This continual shift of style, tone and even genre in some instances is a jarring feature of 'Stand In Line' €“ you get the sense that the band have shot themselves in the foot by making an album of some solidly produced tracks which just happen to mix like oil and water. It's by-the-numbers Britpop, but definitely listenable all the same - and there are a few sparks of genuine promise in the use of interesting guitar effects, structural patterns and even smatterings of accordion-based innovation. A band that have toured with Oasis in a climate thick with indie landfill and the third mod revival, The Cornerstones have got heart €“ and are neither as boring as The Kooks nor as samey as Twisted Wheel. They do their best to dodge all of the conventions, but never sound quite as exciting as you want them to be. That said, for an unsigned band to be as consistent as they are for the best part of a 50-minute album is impressive in itself. There's passion here from what is certainly a musically talented band, so let's just call 'Stand In Line' an accomplished stopgap.

Stand In Line is out on 1st October

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A mythical hedonist, a chronic solipsist, a poet armed with a mouth full of adjectives, a brain full of adverbs and a box full of laxatives. Writing words in a language that isn't real to impress people that I invented since The Big Bang.