For the past decade or so The Rifles have been plodding away, doing their mod (The Jam in particular) influenced indie thing and picking up a loyal fan base along the way. Since their formation in 2004, three albums have been released – debut No Love Lost in 2006 introduced the quartet’s aforementioned style, follow up The Great Escape did much the same while 2011’s Freedom Run shifted towards more grandiose, orchestral pop in places.
It’s been far from plain sailing, having to overcome financial problems, rows with banks and enforce line-up changes. Yet a full decade since their first gig and eight years on from their debut, The Rifles are still with us when many of the 2006 vintage are long since gone. With the original line-up back in place following the return of bassist Robert Pyne and drummer Grant Marsh to the fold alongside Joel Stoker and Lucas Crowther, The Rifles have resurrected their early sound, energy and enthusiasm.
There is an abundance of upbeat, punchy melodies and spiky guitars, riffs and hooks you could hang your hat on. It feels as though the band have just reverted back to where their strengths always lay and embraced them. The incessantly catchy ‘Minute Mile’ leads the super-charged opening, with the bouncy two minute injection of indie power pop of ‘Heebie Jeebies’ and ‘Go Lucky’ continues the momentum, and the latter nodding towards their fondness for The Jam. ‘All I Need’, ‘You Win Some’ and ‘The Hardest Place To’ offer a less exuberant side to their personality; preferring to fill the air with some subtle but energetic strumming, spritely drumbeats and luscious harmonies and melodies. While the albums finest moment ‘Shoot From The Lip’, isn’t too far removed from the catchy, heartfelt, quirky pop of Pete & The Pirates.
While it’s unclear if None The Wiser will be enough for The Rifles to transform their cult status; this is highly enjoyable, infectious, tight and melodic indie, done ever so well, and you know what? Sometimes that it’s quite enough.