I Fought the Law and the Law Won
Matt Bishop has come a long way from recording T. Rex songs on his Fisher-Price cassette player. He and the rest of Switches are some brilliant Brits who have done their homework and bring their own energy and royal spirit to the crowded table of British music. Their assuring sophomore album, Lay Down the Law, will make listeners want to throw on a mod suit, sling back some pints, and get all sweaty at a random rock show in Leeds.Drama Queen, a strong opening single anchored by hand claps and Bishop’s growling delivery, evokes the cheeky raunch of Louis the XIV. The royal theme provides playful lyrics and the choral background vocals hint at Gorillaz circa Demon Days. Meanwhile, the title track is more sonically related to Franz Ferdinand. The riffs are classic and the chorus is so infectiously easy to sing along to (“We lay down the law, so what the hell are you here for?!”), you can almost hear it getting the iPod commercial treatment.
While these are catchy anthems, Switches sport a few different suits before the record is over. They make a better version of The Killerâ€šÃ„Ã´s “Mr. Brightside” with “Coming Down,” borrowing from Metric synths and Rivers Cuomo vocal stylings. Jimmy G’s almost disco drumming helps add to a timeless UK flavor that could’ve rocked a Liverpool basement bar in ’72. “Message from Yuz,” the title track of their debut EP, is a gem worthy of Bowie or Jagger, with Bishop fine-tuning a dance friendly strut that screams sex and classic punk. Ollie Thomas’ lead guitar work shines on The Law‘s deeper tracks. The Brian Wilson-inspired surf rock anthem, “Lovin It,” features a stellar solo reminiscent of their former tour partners, The Darkness.
Whether they don a mod suit or a Mohawk, it doesn’t matter because Switches have created a strong case for themselves with Lay Down the Law. Bishop and his mates can throw back a few knowing they’ve made their own impressive contribution to the endless Brit rock beat down.