The persistence of artists like Jon Greenwood, the man behind The Doublecross, is commendable in many ways. Three albums deep without building beyond a small but loyal fanbase, he may be forgiven for accepting that things will never change.
But Greenwood clearly knows how to write a punk rock song, and the tracks on ’Keep Bleeding’ are solid if not spectacular. One suspects that this was The Doublecross’ aim all along, yet intelligent melodies cut through a relentless backdrop of crisp, smoothly-produced guitar attacks and basic rhythms. It’s a sound that satisfies and frustrates in equal measure, and any album recorded by a three-piece in under ten days will always feel rushed, to a certain degree.
The opening salvo of ’One More Time’ and ’My Only Friends Are Chemicals’ is a punchy introduction and the latter offers the first glimpse of Greenwood’s ability as a sharp lyricist – “I’m talking to myself every night – "Yeah, are you ok man?” ”I’m doing fine””. Both also pack a catchy chorus and an energy that subsides somewhat on ’Fireworks And Butterflies’, a lead single that could have been an early Foo Fighters throwaway. Self-evident clichés grate on ’She Might Be The One’, but ’Bad Dreams’ and ’The Wire’ thankfully restore riffs and hooks of which a teenage Billie Joe Armstrong would be proud.
For the most part, the later tracks here are the weakest on offer. Yet fillers ‘Hurt People Hurt People’ and ‘Forever Pretending To Sleep’ give way to the best song on the album. ‘The Lake’ is a startlingly sparse Kelly Jones-esque ballad that shows Greenwood’s true ability for the first time. Over a lone guitar, the cigs-and-booze voice sounds like it might just be about to break as he delivers the stunning line: "She loves me more than I love myself”.
On this evidence, The Doublecross remain frustratingly inconsistent. But who’d bet on Jon Greenwood giving up now?
‘Keep Bleeding’ by The Doublecross is out now on Boss Tuneage, No Panic!, Tiny Little Creatures and Aaahh Real Records.
Words By Peter Stewart (@AtavanHalen_)