To say that The City Kids have had a good couple of years is taking understatement to the very extreme; their first album – a lock-down project recorded before half the band had even been in a room together, and certainly before a gig had been played – was something pretty special, followed up for the band’s two-year anniversary by the ‘City Kids’ EP, a four-track EP of Motörhead covers, including – of course – their namesake track ‘City Kids’. In the meantime, they were recently nominated for Hard Rock Hell’s ‘Rising Stars’ award, only narrowly losing out to the equally brilliant Mercury Riots.
Now, though, they’re back, with the long-awaited full-length follow-up to that ‘Things That Never Were’ debut, probably one of the most teased, hinted-at, and eagerly anticipated albums of the last 18 months. Was it worth the wait?
In short, ‘yes’. It’s good. Actually, it’s better than good. It’s absolutely superb. The opening pairing of title-track Filth and Alone is a stunningly good opening salvo that matches the aural assault of their live-show with huge songs and ridiculously catchy singalong choruses; The City Kids do that thing that bands like The Wildhearts, Three Colours Red, and Senseless Things did of taking the most earworm-hooky pop sensibilities and wrapping them up, Motörhead-like, in the loudest, dirtiest, most in-your-face guitars in the world. And then hitting you round the head with them. Repeatedly.
Add in the thunderous rampaging of Dave Sanders’ drums and Berty Burton’s low-slung Thunderbird basses, add the brogue snarl of JJ Watt’s Mike Ness-like vocal delivery – sounding like he wants to charm you, laugh at you, and kick your head in all at once – and there’s a rawness, aggression, and just plain reality to Filth that’s missing from ninety percent of current supposed rock bands. Add in the mixing and production skills of Andy Brook and the mastering sparkle of Dave Draper, and it was always going to be something special.
But it’s not just the dirt that sets it apart; those three years hard-drinking and hanging out on the road have pulled The City Kids tighter and tighter together. They’re what we used to think bands should be, back when we were kids listening to punk records and wishing we could play guitar; they’ve become fully brothers-in-arms, ‘you & me against the world’, a proper ‘us vs everyone else’ ragtag gang of… well, yeah. Filth. And it shows. It shows in the performances, in the songwriting and contributions, and just in the overall cohesiveness and togetherness of the record. They’re a proper, nasty, kicking-and-snarling, band.
Through the ‘near-miss mess-ups’ tale of It Should Have Been You, the grit and determination of Heartbreak and Scars right through to album-closer Yesterday, Filth has dirt under under it’s fingernails, empty bottles in the flightcases, and almost certainly some white powdery residue somewhere on the mixing desk. It’s genuine. It’s noisy. It’s what dirty rock n’ roll records should be.
THE CITY KIDS – ‘Filth’
3: IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU
7: SOMETHING FASTER
8: YOU WANNA?
Filth is released on the 25th November, on Very Fried Artists (through Cargo Records).
Pre-order – https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/the-city-kids-filth