Album Review: This Rebel


This Rebel

This Rebel is the brainchild of The Twang‘s frontman Phil Etheridge and monitor engineer Jon ‘Simmo’ Simcox. The two have worked together in the past with Simmo producing the last three Twang albums ‘10:20‘, ‘Neon Twang‘ and ‘If Confronted Just Go Mad‘ but this is the first time they have worked together in this songwritting way and wow, what an album they have produced here.

After bouncing ideas back and forth the duo also got Jonny Scott (Chvrches) and vocalist Cat Matigue (Tom Grennan) involved in the finishing of the self-titled record.

The album almost runs like concept album, not sure if this is intentional or not, but the way it flows is perfect and takes you on a journey of heartbreak, loneliness, acceptance and love. It feels like it should be a cinematic soundtrack, every song gets you feeling every emotion and the best albums are those that make you feel part of it.

Starting with their first single ‘Heartstopper‘, this feels like a good introduction and the perfect start to the journey. Talking about double dropping and washing a Superman down with liquor, this gives the feel of a guy who just wants to rid the bad of life and the world for a night with an Ecstasy haze. With ‘Duvet Helmet‘ following, this is like the aftermath when reality comes back and you end up in a paranoid state, just wanting to wrap your head in a duvet and lock the outside world out. Musically this makes you feel very uneasy which perfectly fits with the theme.

Cheap Thought‘ was the last single released from the album and this has an 80’s inspired vibe, it gives off a loner feel, wanting to be on your own after loving somebody for warts and all but sometimes, not knowing something is better than the truth that could damage more. What Phil does amazing is make you feel his pain. It feels like the accepting and moving on part of a break up.

The biggest tune on the album is undoubtedly ‘King Without A Throne‘, the chorus on this is insanely big and the lyrics hit hard every time! Like I said about it feeling like a concept album, this feels like the final chapter of the break up like, fuck! This is rock bottom, “Don’t end up on your own in a cheap hotel, take the time to keep your nose clean boy, this is not home for king without a throne.” It even gives me goosebumps just writting that.

During the second half, Cat Matigue makes her appearance and this spins the album into a totally new dimension, the chemisty in the duets with Phil are absolutely electric. Like now we get two sides to a story and the album suddenly starts bubbling with optimism too. ‘If I Wrote You A Letter‘ is a beautiful little redemption tale with Phil wanting to reach out and Cat wanting the olive branch. “If I write you a letter will you write back? A few little words to make things better.

Cat goes all hypnotic, almost Kate Bush like on ‘Kisses‘, this is pretty much all Cat’s tune. It pulls you into a trance with her amazing vocals, so much so, that when Phil comes in with his spoken part about being bewitched, you can picture the scene.

The album ends with ”It’s Easy If You Try‘, this is a ballad that is slightly Embrace like but obviously a whole lot cooler. It has Bowie-esque space sounds zipping around which must be from the famous Space Echo Eventide H910 which Simmo proudly owns. Phil’s vocals on this are the most honest and tender on the whole record, it’s a great way to end the album and makes you want to restart it again to see how you got to this point. Every time you do restart the record too, new sections will pop out to you.

This Rebel have created an album here that may not have been right for The Twang but at the same time it undeniable contains elements of The Twang. Obviously, Phil’s storytelling and vocals back that up, but it just feels a whole lot more personal and honest than we probably would have gotten from a full band record.

If somebody asked me what my music taste is, I would just play them this record and say this is 100% my music taste, from the weirder tunes to the ballads everything struck a chord with me and made me feel some kind of emotion. It should be a hanging crime if at some point, some of these tunes don’t end up on a Netflix drama or even the big screen.

Between The Twang, The Effenaar and now This Rebel it feels like a kind of sub-genre is forming and I’m all for that! Let’s start a cult!

This Rebel is released Friday 8th March and is available here:

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