CD Review of Running with the Wasters by The Takeover UK
The Takeover UK: Running with the Wasters
Recommended if you like
The Fratellis, Franz Ferdinand,
The Kooks
Label
Rykodisc
The Takeover UK:
Running with the Wasters

Reviewed by Neil Carver

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T
he Takeover UK aren’t there yet, but not for lack of trying.

There is nothing UK about this Pittsburgh-based band. Listening to their debut album, though, you realize their name is more of a mission statement – a gauntlet thrown across the sea at every one of their influences. From the opening ska revival-style horns (a la Madness) to the barroom bravado lyrics (a la the Fratellis), these gents seem hell-bent on appropriating the Brit rock sound they clearly love.

Running with the Wasters is their debut full length for Rykodisc, and carries forward everything they began with their 2008 EP, It’s All Happening. Eleven of the 13 tracks are brand new, and they have done an excellent job of expanding their sound and varying the power chords beyond the punk sameness of the EP. This makes the songs distinctive, but results in some up-and-down moments throughout. "The Lonely Ones" is a bouncy, fun, pop-as-they-come rush out of the gates, but the next track, "Never Been So Sick," stumbles over the rather simplistic and repetitive lyrics. This is unfortunate, because Nic Snyder’s vocals on the refrain take a nice turn, sounding like Miles Hunt of the Wonder Stuff, and showing off even one more UK influence. "Ah La La" is their power single, repeated from the EP in third place, but the band really hits its stride with the title track at number four.

"Running with the Wasters" is one of only two songs over four minutes long on the album, and slows the pace down just enough for one to appreciate the strength of the songwriting and instrumental prowess. The lyrics take on a more introspective tone and Snyder’s vocals transform again, taking on a welcome American influence, a touching, heartfelt whine straight from Billy Corgan. The guitars break the otherwise omnipresent wall-of-sound of the rest of the album, finding some soft and intricate moments that make the return to the crunch and simple drum kit pound.

Takeover UK

The Takeover continues marrying a variety of influences throughout the rest of the album. "Denise" is a country-influenced, twangy love song, and where the lyrics don’t match the potential of the music, the accordion and man-with-no-name whistle are perfect touches. "Distant Shores" is like a missing track from Never Loved Elvis, and "Kill Me Dead" begs to have an entire bar swinging its drinks and singing along to "I’m a man of simple pleasures!" It all takes an unfortunate turn sideways with "Sleep It All Away," when the band brings in strings and wah-wah horns for a hangover-inducing mash of sounds. Still, if they were perhaps trying to aurally recreate the disorientation and dissonance and depression of an actual hangover, then perhaps it’s right on the mark.

The back half finishes with five short, hard, sharp songs that culminate with another rousing sing-along in "Don’t Wait Up." All in all, the whole thing is a fun, energetic and excellent party album that shows off a lot of potential. The Takeover UK may not end up ruling the rock world, but they are going to have a good time trying…and really, isn’t that what it should all be about?

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