Review: The Rifles, Rescue Rooms, by Phil Viles
IT is odd that a band, for whom an electric guitar riff is at the beating heart of their Mod-like genus, should want to rip that out and go unplugged.
But that's what Chingford five-piece The Rifles (reduced to a three-piece, with both the drummer and the bassist missing) have done on this tour.
They've eschewed their primary extincts, dallied from their guitar-driven trajectory and switched off.
Comparisons to The Jam and the Ordinary Boys usually flow from reviewers' fingers when faced with the task of describing them, but at the Rescue Rooms on Wednesday night, their stripped bare set unveiled a sweetly disparate sound that was catchy, beatific and refreshingly intimate.
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Joel Stroker's reverb-heavy vocals benefited from the attribute of simplicity, his lyrics galvanised by a freedom to drift without the super-charged buzz of electricity - even if it wasn't strictly unplugged, with a piano and guitar still whirring gently behind him.
But they've slipped a little melancholy into their tuneful, brazen chorusus, and where once there was a cocksure bravado, an earnest - almost poetic - sincerity has been allowed to absorb into their songs, including the anthemic Local Boy, perhaps still their best work.
And with these new incarnations, they've proved that less is in fact more.