By Victoria Irvine
Take a look at the lyrics of today’s chart hits and you’ll find more social commentary and class consciousness in an episode of Made In Chelsea.
It seems the working-class ‘voice’ lamented in the mainstream by such icons as The Beatles and Oasis has been replaced by the vacuous love notes between two teens in Chemistry class.
But telling it like it is at the top of thecharts is The Enemy, a three-piece band from Coventry who have used familiar Brit-pop riffs and down-toearth lyrics to clear the throats of the masses.
Despite being in their 20s, The Enemy have catapulted themselves into the public’s consciousness with politically fuelled lyrics which echo some of the grass roots frustrations of the current day. But as they release their third studio album, Streets in the Sky, drummer Liam Watts explains that everything isn’t doom and gloom with the talented trio.
“People think we’re all about focusing on the bad points in life but we’re not,” he explains. “We focus on normality. And normality is anything you want it to be. We just want to make music that people can enjoy but relate to and that’s rare nowadays.”
Managing to steer clear of the ‘lad culture’ attitude employed by their swaggering peers, The Enemy have solidified a fan base frustrated with the pop dross filling the airwaves. Singer Tom Clarke’s particular ability to cut to the crux of an issue is exactly what listeners were looking for as a musical release.
Their 2007 debut album, We’ll Live and Die in These Towns, reached number one in the UK charts and was hailed for its infectiously catchy tracks and refreshingly raw lyrics, giving it enough snarl to make Johnny Rotten blush. Their 2008 follow up hit, Music for the People, received mixed reviews as The Enemy added an element of strings to their usual set up, making the sound over-polished to the point of alienating some of the fans they had earned for their grittier tracks.
Despite criticism that they’re rather one-dimensional in their song techniques, Liam insists the band are returning to their roots with their new record: “We’ve never pretended to be anything that we’re not. We’re just sensible lads singing about what we feel. We’ve definitely taken our time with this album and have used a lot of tracks we wrote years ago because they fit perfectly so we’re hopeful that fans will like it.” The name of their third album, Streets in the Sky, came about after Clarke watched a documentary of the same title.
“I haven’t seen it yet but Tom told us the name and we thought it was perfect,” Liam admits. “The documentary was about a high-rise housing estate in Sheffield in the 1960s. People were promised this was a better way of living but we all know living on an estate is anything but.”
The 12-tracker was recorded in sunny LA with The Bronx’s Joby J Ford in a rather packed studio, as Clarke depicts on The Enemy’s blog: “We’ve got more guitars here than I’ve ever seen in one place. Amps from all corners of the world, and a King Kong size drum kit, and that’s about it.” Working with old friend and manager, John “he took a chance on us” Dawkins, the Coventry boys found it easy to get their creative juices flowing.
After a three year silence, and plenty of probing by their fans for a definite release date, Clarke took to the band’s blog in April to announce the May 21 release date for Streets in the Sky. “It’s definitely the album we’re all most stoked about,” Liam gushes. “We’ve taken our time and given 100% in every song so we’re probably more excited than we have been in a long time. We can’t wait to get it out there because it has been a while.”
Their new single, Saturday, sees the Coventry trio chanting that ‘Saturday will make it all ok’, maintaining a Britpop feel without channelling Rebecca Black’s irritating observation on how the week flows. The simple strip down arrangement works well for the track, ensuring that it’s one to be belched out down the local by every tipsy nine-to-fiver on their weekend of freedom.
“Everybody loves a Saturday,” laughs Liam. “We love the track and can’t wait to play it live more often and have people singing it back. Nothing is better than sitting in your local unwinding after a hard week’s work.”
Local ties are certainly important to the trio, as they plan to play two gigs in hometown Coventry to celebrate their album release. The intimate performances will take place in the iconic ruins of Coventry Castle for some of their most loyal fans. “These people have been there for us since day one and it’s always a great way to say thank you. Playing to a crowd of 300 is as rewarding as playing for 3000 and we’re planning a massive set that will absolutely wow them.”
Wowing is certainly a constant feature on The Enemy’s lavish CV, as their mere six years in the limelight has already seen them support Oasis and Kasabian (amongst others), have two Top Three album hits and, more bizarrely, May 5 this year saw them play the FA Cup Final at Wembley. Yes, you read that correctly. The band braved the stormy weather and took to the roof of the stadium to play some tracks from Streets in the Sky for over 100,000 chanting football and music fans. While they lack the brazen fecklessness of their muses, The Enemy certainly act as the Ronseal between popular music and cultural niggles with an all-round likeableness that allows them to stick two fingers up to the man while reaping all the benefits. And why shouldn’t they? Despite their success, the three-piece still pride themselves on having dirt under their nails rather than a cute mani-pedi so it will be interesting to see what outlandish accolade they’ll achieve next.
Streets in the Sky is out now. To find out more about The Enemy and where they’re playing next check out www.theenemy.com