In a week in which the news was dominated by local elections and politics, Prestonpans five piece The Rah’s released their debut album – When Does It Become Real? Unlike a Tory politician, I’m going to declare an interest. I have numerous reasons to wish great success upon the venture. The main one being, as one of the contributors to the crowd funding scheme that helped finance the album, I have my name on the back cover. As I placed the needle on the record it was with a sense of anticipation and expectation.
With When Does It Become Real, The Rah’s – Jack McLeod (vocals/guitar), Jordan McIntyre (guitars/vocals), Neale Gray (drums), Lee Brown (bass) and Jack Miller (Keyboards) have rewarded my anticipation and reached my expectations. This album is a belligerent barrage of genuine rock & roll bangers, builders and ballads. It contains songs about action, self-belief, change and reconciliation, delivered with energy, enthusiasm and emotion.
The album starts in emphatic style with the song that finished their live set when I first saw them – the vibrant, demanding ‘call to arms’ that is The Time Is Now. It’s a killer tune that brings to mind The Black Keys. Next up is Our Design, a song that oozes with British, indie-guitar DNA – it sounds like Kelly Jones is playing guitar for Liam Gallagher. Land Of The Dreamers is a song whose driving beat, mix of guitars and keyboards have a hint of Kasabian about them – it’s the one you’re going to bounce to when you see The Rah’s in the flesh. If You Never Try (You’ll Never Know) is going to be the next single release (as part of a double A-side with Our Design), a song with searing guitar riffs anchored by a relentless glam-rock drum beat.
It may be my imagination, but these songs seem to have gone through a minor transformation in the production process. They seem heavier, louder, more rock than I recall them. We see another dimension and it seems like a natural line of travel for The Rah’s. Side one finishes with the palate cleansing ballad Watch The World. This song’s base is an aching, everlasting chord that gives the impression of an orchestral string section, overlaid with simple guitar refrains and gentle vocals. This is the one you’ll need to hold your lighter (or smartphone) in the air for.
Thoughts kicks off side two of the album. It continues where side one finishes. It starts off slowly, making you think its going to be another ballad. The initial piano and vocals are joined by martial percussion, bass and minimalistic guitar riff – it builds, grows, and develops into something much more anthemic. It’s a perfect segue song for the straight up rock and roll tunes that follow: She’s Not – a song brimful of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Harley Davidson guitars and Rolling Stones‘ ‘woo-hoos’; Crave – a shimmering, psychedelic vortex of swirling guitars and multi-layered vocals.
The final track on the album is the touching Fuel To The Fire, a critique of the social, political and other myriad divisions visible in current society, delivered by voice, piano and bagpipe. The melody that McLeod sings is repeated by the bagpipes and for a frustratingly long time I couldn’t recall what it reminded me of. It finally came to me: think of a slower Liverpool Girl by Ian McNabb and you’re not a million miles away from the melody.
If I have one tiny criticism of the album it is with the timings between tracks. At times they appear to be non-existent. The gap between If You Never Try (You’ll Never Know) and Sweet Talker is so tiny that the songs appear to be one long mega-mix. Perhaps this was a conscious decision to keep the momentum of the album barreling along, or maybe it was due to time constraints – the album tops out at around 42 minutes. The songs on When Does It Become Real? are excellent, they deserve a little room to breathe.
So Mr. Speaker, in response to the question raised by the Honourable gentleman opposite, ‘When Does It All Become Real?’. The answer is today! The Time is Now! Don’t let the good times come down! Get the album now from whichever platform takes money from your account on a monthly basis, or treat yourself to the vinyl.