Being the lesser known co-founder of one of Britain’s most average indie bands isn’t the kind of resume that raises expectations. Coupled with the recent lacklustre return of old friends of the band, the Libertines, and less recent, even more atrocious efforts from touring partners the Arctic Monkeys, expectation becomes fear. However, I won’t pretend to have listened to any of his other albums, so I came into “West Kirby County Primary” with a modicum of hope.
The opener “Tell Me you Don’t Love Me Watching” couldn’t really have split my opinion more completely. On one side of this cerebral schism lay the obvious seedy undertone to the main refrain “Just look at the things that you’re wearing, and tell me you don’t love me watching”. However, and more incredibly, the genuine affection in Ryder-Jones’ performance is enough to convey that the songs muse is someone that he absolutely loves, in an honest and charming way.
The album is certainly at its best when stripped of the pretence of indifference that plagues too much of indie music. On the Jesus and Mary Chain inspired “Let’s Get Away From Here” Ryder-Jones sings “If something breaks your heart then I would know, yeah I should know”, and once again brings to the foray a euphoric sense of adoration that carries onto “Daniel”. The upbeat moments are no less intimate in their subject matter.
The sunny jangle pop of “Wild Roses” and “You Can’t Hide a Light with the Dark” give the album an accessible edge. There certainly isn’t anything being revolutionised anywhere on the album. Every chord change is predictable, every guitar tone recycled. But it succeeds in what it sets out to do.
Perhaps if The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys stopped trying so desperately to sound smart and cool respectively, they’d learn something from Bill Ryder-Jones ability to openly convey his own, unaltered feelings in succinct, clever witticisms. I recommend streaming this album if you’re a fan of mellow indie guitar music.