The Rifles’ debut No Love Lost was a sparkling platter that appealed to mods and artrockers alike, with its Jam-fuelled guitars and nervous energy. It had a definite nod to the Mod revival movement of 1979-80, but equally it stood out at a time when the Gang of Four’s earnest post-punk and Orange Juice were the flavour of the month.
Now the Rifles are firing again (ah, come on, you knew that was coming) with their fourth album, None The Wiser on Cooking Vinyl, which is increasingly becoming a safety net for bands that have may not appeal to major labels, but have a big enough following to justify their faith.
It contains the standard 60s-70s Rifles up-and-at-em riff-heavy rock’n’roll with Joel Stoker’s turbo-charged lyrical style, none more so than on the excellent, super-charged Heebie Jeebie. Go Lucky is a powerful prospective single as good as anything on that debut release. And Catch Her In The Rye is a fine opprtunity to tone the power down a tad, for a beautiful singalong. You Win Some is a very British display of Californian laidback melodies. “You can’t have the world,” sings Stoker as he retells the familiar story of getting yourself back on your feet.
No-one is ever going to pretend the Rifles are treading new ground, quite the opposite, but what they do is immeasurably good, and None the Wiser is a cracking collection to wipe away those post-holiday blues.