Don’t Move! - The New Pop Sound of Don’t Move!

Dan Round 23/09/2009

Rating: 4/5

Hailing from Birmingham and Coventry, Don't Move! are a Midlands four-piece with a “new pop sound” at their disposal. This new pop sound, however, is really more like old style guitar pop. Despite this, Don't Move! - songwriters Mason Le Long (guitars/vocals) and Joe Carvell (bass), plus messrs Matt Rheeston (drums) and Cederick Confuegos (keys) - are no Byrds or Beatles rip-off merchants. Instead, their fusion of influences - 60's guitar bands, jingly-jangly 80's indie, bluegrass artists, Burt Bacharach's melodic perfection, as well as the Americana folk inspired by their labelmate and producer, Paul Curreri - has helped to craft a sublime and refreshing guitar pop record for 2009.

“The New Pop Sound of Don't Move!” begins with the twangy guitar intro of “Her Return”, a song which has been knocking around for a good couple of years. The new album version differs from the original demo with busier instrumentation and speedier, more imposing guitars. The song is a far less “twee” affair than it used to be, and the album as a whole sounds bigger and grander than the band's previous efforts. The shuffling rhythm of “Her Return” provides a fitting start to the album, its intensity and vigour as well as the interesting instrumentation - complete with Lowrey organs - giving a taster of what's to come as the album progresses. The following, Coral-esque “You Know I Do!” is equally impressive and instantly catchy with a bustling hook-line. The opening two songs are a great starting point for the album.

Track three “You're Still Laughing” lowers the tone, with a creepy bass intro and the declarative, tagline lyric of “I've got a soul and not much else” establishing the song's gloominess. However, the elation of “Roomfull of Tears” with its optimistic guitars and innocent keys returns the album to a more upbeat and cheery sound. The band's ability to coherently switch between tones and styles is a key factor in making this such an impressive debut record. “She Only Went To Hang The Washing Out”, another old song that Don't Move! have been kicking around for some time, features a humorous lyric about an attempt at a hasty 'morning after' escape from the scene of a fling. “It's a good job your father's gun collection is all the way upstairs” Le Long proclaims (no shit!) after spending a night in a downstairs bedroom (!!) and being spotted by his girl's unhappy mother. Boasting the most memorable riff of the album, a repetitive and minimalist sitar-sounding sequence, “She Only Went…” is the song that really sets Don't Move! apart from their contemporaries, or indeed any other 60s revivalists or 80s 'jingle-jangle' indie enthusiasts. Yet again proving their time in the studio has enhanced their music, it is another song that is busier, livelier, and altogether better than the original demo version.

By the mid-point of the album, Don't Move! play their experimental card. The change of track with “Can't Tell” and its synthesised riff, reminiscent of Maximo Park's keyboards in “Our Velocity”, exposes Don't Move!'s willingness to step outside conventional indie territory in order to further their pop sensibilities. Followed by the brilliant bass-heavy “Follow The Rats”, the mid-point of the album really showcases Don't Move!'s full musical strength - this time, the band spin a whirlwind of sprawling, menacing guitars to create an atypically dark tone. The keyboards return with “The Bowling Green”, one of the weaker songs on the album that passes by without really making an impact. With thirteen songs, “The New Pop Sound…” is not completely filler-free, though one of its major strengths is that it picks up strongly after the less than brilliant moments. Following the less memorable (though by no means underwhelming) “The Bowling Green” and the Hot Club De Paris takeoff “Love Her Dearly” (oddly chosen as a single) “Let Me In” and “How Can I Give You What You Want” return the album to greatness before it ends.

At times, the influence of Paul Curreri is obvious, his brand of Americana folk deeply implanted in Don't Move!'s otherwise very English styling. The more folksy songs on “The New Pop Sound of…” take definite influence from the folk of Curreri and his wife, fellow singer-songwriter and labelmate Devon Sproute. The elegant, haunting “Fortress” with its gently picked acoustic guitars, tinkling piano and subtle strings is a direct nod to the folk of their labelmates; others on the album - such as “Let Me In!”, with its swaggering bass - also contain folk elements and at times posses a cool stripped-down, acoustic feel. The great, Kinks-esque penultimate song “How Can I Give You What You Want?” features one of Le Long's most humorous lyrics, bitterly mocking a distant lover who has an “ice-cold stare” and is generally pretty petty. The closing “A Poor Crutch” featuring a declarative, apologetic lyric (“I'm sorry I've been such a poor crutch”) proves to be an emphatic end to a great album. Clocking in at just under six minutes, it's the lengthiest song of the thirteen. Beginning in a typically understated manner with rumbling acoustics, the song builds with a big chorus and a fast paced, energetic outro complete with majestic violins, violas and trumpets. It is Don't Move! at their very best, leaving the listener excited for more material.

With album launches last week in their native Birmingham and Coventry, as well as London, Don't Move! gave a sneak peak at the pop sound of their debut album. Now, on release and with a string of live dates in the near future, the collective can only go from strength to strength. This is a confident and bold debut record from an intriguing and diverse band - Don't Move!'s harmonious old/new pop sound can be nothing short of a winner amongst the banality of most predictable modern 'indie' bands. Please don't move! take note! of this band! (sorry, it was crying out to end with some cheesy !!s).

Out now on Tin Angel Records. (21st Sept)

Don't Move My Space