The Enemy

Streets In The Sky

The new Enemy album is finally here. There it sits, being shite, in the noonday sun, attracting flies. Cross over the road my friend, ask the Lord his strength to lend, fer chrissakes don’t disturb it, you know it’ll start smelling worse. There’s too much good stuff to spend time whining about the bad stuff, yeah? If you do whine, the bad stuff will still happen, so why worry? Console yourself – it’s just the flow of cash from arsehole to arsehole – and get back to what you like. But is that a sufficient response? If wiser folk sit simply bathing in the milky plenitude of their own good taste, documents that seal the horror of the age like Streets In the Sky will simply be allowed to slip out there, venture into young minds unchallenged, perform their moves of atrophy and enfeeblement, and be passed like a virus of pisspoorness to more and more people convinced this is as good as rock can get, that this is actually music and not the second-guesswork committee-thinking pretend-pop that it is.

Even I’d leave ’em to it if they weren’t such hypocritical little fuckers. A few months ago Tom Clarke, the gobshite who fronts these clowns, sneered "radio and music in general is fucking appalling at the moment. Why is nobody brave enough to make a great album? A record that can define a time? That can say what we’re all thinking? Seriously?". Seriously. He said that. In comparison to The Enemy, Rebecca Black, Double Take, Cascada, people singing Bruno Mars songs into their webcams are living models of integrity. Whenever I hear Clarke quacking out his nonsense my mind goes back, back… a few years back, when I used to DJ the side-room in the Colly.

I remember when The Enemy were called Bridges and played mainly a stunningly competent, utterly tedious set of Mod covers, unnecessary blooze-gippage and generally nauseating muso-wank. They seemed to play every other week, but that could just be my mind playing tricks with exactly how interminable their pap seemed to be. What was clear to anyone who had a heart was that they were amazingly accomplished for their age, dressed rather cutely like 60s mod cut-outs and were unfailingly & stupefyingly dull. One summer, they disappeared. They came back as The Enemy, cleaned up and made as sellable as possible by Warner Bros with a shitload of stupid money, a few indie-friendly haircuts, a few hundred squids worth of sports-casual wear. The Enemy, from the start have been a total confection of grittiness, of realness, of street-level nous, and they’d have safely passed under my radar if they hadn’t consistently used their Coventry ‘roots’ as some kind of earthy basis for their half-arsed lash-together of tedious pub-rock riffola and gnarly small town frustration.

Coventry City Council (or rather the private company CV1 that now run our town centre) were daft enough, once the Enemy had hit big, to plaster our ring-road (I pray the title of this new album is unconnected) with Clarke’s face. As if us Coventrians should be proud that The Enemy have taken their lies worldwide. As if we wanted to greet each grey morn seeing this him on our way to work, and potentially before we’d even eaten breakfast. Inevitably, it took about a day before a massive spunk-spurting cock was spray-painted onto his forehead – a move seemingly un-noticed by CV1, and one that’s provided a genuinely warm-fuzzy feel of civic pride every time I’ve driven past it since. Until recently they were set to play Cov Cathedral’s ruins in a couple of weeks (Health & Safety have kiboshed it apparently and suspicions about sluggish ticket-sales are utterly unfounded, honest guv) – a fact that offended me on all kinds of levels, none of them religious.

If you want the true sound of Cov, drive the ring-road & tune into HillzFM, hear loony Nigerian church services, shitloads of drum & bass, dubstep, reggae and the odd bit of Ukrainian/Polish/Italian and Irish music, hear the WHOLE of Cov, not just the particularly rancid corners of whiteboy-schmindie that still persist. On the Enemy’s FB-page they talk about things ‘going-off Wood End style’: for anyone who actually lives in and knows Coventry, these blatantly misinformed attempts to tie themselves in with some perception of Coventry ruffneckness are just plain embarrassing, suggest that they’ve never actually been out and about in the city. If they were, if they listened, they’d realise that most of us are ASHAMED the Enemy come from Coventry, and skirt over it in polite conversation with a slight wrinkle of the nose. On behalf of Coventry’s good, kindly, normally abnormal people, I cast thee Enemy OUT. Excommunicated to Bubbenhall. No, that’s too cruel. Let’s make it Meriden.

They’ve never sounded better. Seriously. The Bronx’s Joby Ford has found them a big blustery wide thump to inhabit, a state-of-the-art faux-rawness that sounds like the Foo Fighters at their most lucrative, QOTSA at their crossover-worst, Biffy Clyro at their most insufferably Biffy Clyro. The fact that The Enemy have populated this surefire money-making template with songs so laughably under-developed, half-arsed and unconvincing almost makes you pity the little pricks – opener ‘Gimme The Sign’ pitches the usual utterly predictable sub-Oasis rawk-plod against lyrics so knuckle-bitingly bad ("He’s walking like a penguin / All zipped up tight / He’s acting like he’s Tupac / But he’s never even seen a gun") you wonder how he’s gonna top it on the rest of the album. (Don’t worry, he does. Repeatedly.)

The single ‘Saturday’ follows through like a worryingly moist bottom-brap. ("Frosty milkman in the morning / Desperate breakfast in a boring town". Desperate breakfast? What, really? Surely ‘forlorn fry-up’ or ‘Wearisome Weetabix’ would’ve scanned better, n’est ce pas?) You finally realise, The Enemy aren’t actually making music anymore, if they ever did. They’re arranging sound in ways to make money from people who have bought previous arrangements of sound they’ve been responsible for. Even when The Enemy try and write a pop-song, they come out with what they always come out with – stodgy waddling rock songs of quite staggering insipidity, rock that’s been mushed up to the consistency of gruel. When they go soft on the Roxette-esque ‘Like a Dancer’ and Travis-lite ‘Two Kids’ it’s actually a blessed relief from the gurning sweatiness that surrounds it, like a squirt of Oust into a festival latrine.

Overwhelmingly though, the ‘freshness’ and ‘rawness’ The Enemy have been mooting about this record (rather hilariously, they’ve been moaning that their second album was "too political") rapidly becomes a horrific variety of platinum-punk indecision, sound somewhere gullet-ticklingly between Stereophonics and Starsailor on the truly gross ‘Turn It On’ and ‘This Is Real’. It’s lumpenly undanceable on the none-more-unfunky ‘Get Up & Dance’. Turn and tilt your head for a moment while The Enemy are playing and a splat of something revolting falls out of your ear, apologises, squirms away and out the door squeaking. This is what happens when you reheat vomit, when the coprophage feeds from the coprophage. Speaking of which…

As Streets In The Sky malodourously unfolds towards its expiration you actually start feeling a little bit sorry for ’em. A little bit. Pity The Enemy, so young, and yet so soon confronting the limits of their dunderheaded imaginations. Warner Bros have pulled out now, and this ‘comeback’ record is make or break, but from the off, bands like The Enemy made a fatal mistake, have a fundamental misunderstanding of what music is, what makes music great. This generation of lad-rock wannabes all have the fatal flaw inherent in this sham masquerade. Music is all muscle-memory to them – the idea that if you do this to a guitar, if you do this to a bass, if you do this to a drum kit, all these things you’ve seen others do, what will come out will be ‘great’ ‘proper’ music.

Quotes for the posters? "A blazing return to form". Yup, Streets In The Sky certainly slips neatly and melts beautifully into the big bowl of mouldywank the Enemy have already given us. A little spikier perhaps (there are moments here that rock as hard as Kim Wilde & Billy Idol) but that’s just all the better to snag your ‘phagus on the way back up. These songs are so dreary they’re like the distilled essence of Adrian Chiles’ voice made into barres and guitar-tabs, your time escaping forever down the black hole of its tedium. Quotes for you lot? No, you don’t want this in your house. Try to avoid all media that might accidentally send this sonic turd up the u-bend of your day. One last quote for the posters – "AS GOOD AS IT GETS: MAKES YOU PROUD TO BE BRITISH. QUALITY. CLASS. TOP. MINT. LEGENDS. GOOD LUCK TO ‘EM" – before a quote for The Enemy themselves: rot in bargain bins forever you twats. Although I have a horrible feeling it won’t be, I pray and fervently hope this record is your last. You’ll find me in Coventry if you want to take this up with me. Have you ever been?

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today