Reviews Zone

The Rifles: Love Thy Neighbour (Cooking Vinyl) 5th July 2024




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)



It’s been more than seven years since The Rifles released their last record, but now the East Londoners are about to return with their new album “Love Your Neighbour” and the question to be asked is: Was it worth that circa 84 month wait?

We got a taster of the feel of the album via the excellent single “The Kids Won’t Stop”, which starts with lead singer Joel Stoker reflecting on how life inevitably changes from the first flush of youth and into the demands of adulthood.

But then it races into the frenetic melodic rush of its chorus, which contrasts an array of life’s daily annoyances with the kind of soaring, escapist hook which transports you to an altogether more positive state of mind.

Joel says: ” ‘The Kids Won’t Stop’ sums up most of our lives at the moment: constantly busy, no time to breathe… but you have to keep going! It still has the high energy Rifles sound, but with a more representative subject matter to our lives at the moment. It is also a good indication of the sound for the album.”

Their previous two albums, “Big Life” (2016) and “None The Wiser” (2014) achieved the highest chart positions of their career to-date, while their cult-like popularity has continued in the intervening years with countless sold-out London shows at venues including the Roundhouse, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, O2 Kentish Forum, KOKO, Electric Ballroom and Electric Brixton, and they previously headlined Brixton Academy.

The triumphant reaction and electrifying energy of those shows inspired The Rifles as they sent about writing their sixth album, “Love Your Neighbour”.  It’s gritty and it is anthemic, and full of lyrics which capture broadly relatable experiences and provide evocative snapshots of modern British life. The overriding message of the album is a plea to embrace the power of your local community.

Joel Stoker explains:“ ‘Love Your Neighbour’ is saying we’re all in this big old mess together and it would be good to get along a bit more and enjoy it. Talk to people more, help each other out when you can, say good morning and maybe take your head away from your phone for five minutes and appreciate the people standing next to you. I’d like to think that the record captures life’s daily situations that we all come across, all wrapped up in three minute bundles that you can sing along to.”

The Rifles, formed in 2004, are Joel on guitar and lead vocals, Lucas Crowther (guitar), Rob Pyne (bass), Grant Marsh (drums) and Deano Mumford (keys).

Since their debut album “No Love Lost” in 2006, the band has released albums “Great Escape”, “Freedom Run”, “None The Wiser”, and “Big Life”.  Joel also dropped his acclaimed debut solo album “The Undertow”, The Rifles released a singles collection and an acoustic album recorded at Abbey Road, both in 2017, and a live album from London’s Roundhouse in 2020.

They actually had a record’s worth of material prepared early in 2022, but instead took the time to keep on writing new songs to ensure that “Love Your Neighbours” lived up to its full potential. They recorded the 11 track album at Joel’s home studio in Walthamstow which allowed them the freedom to work whenever was convenient.

The band’s own store offers some very limited physical formats, which include a marbled red transparent vinyl with a signed art print and individually signed test pressings. Three retailers also stock exclusive editions: Amazon have a digisleeve CD with a signed insert, Assai offer a blue vinyl, and HMV are selling a sunflower yellow vinyl.

The band sold out their five dates in May around the UK, including the 02 Forum in London. They are out and about live during this summer, and some special album promo out-store events.

So, yes, yes and yes; it was deffo worth the wait for this refreshing new album; which leaves a positive after taste and is our deserved July 2024 album of the month. Some are saying this LP is as good or maybe even better than the band’s debut in 2006.

I reserve judgement on that one and will let you guys be the judge. But I can say it is a lovely job, no duff filler tracks, and the Rifles are spot on target as a return to form, and a sparkling set of new songs to offer loyal fans and attract new ones.

By Andy Faith



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