There’s a moment in BBC 4’s ‘Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain and Ireland’ when some old boy talks about how you could walk down any street in Sheffield and hear the Human League rehearsing at one corner, ABC at another and Def Leppard at a third. That tradition of South Yorkshire rock with a straight up pop sensibility – from even the occasional Top 20 shenanigans of Saxon, through the multi-platinum sales of Def Leppard to the world domination of the Arctic Monkeys – is done right proud on this new seven-track release from Sheffield’s Crossfire Eagles.
The opener, ‘Episode’, has a singable, sugar sweet melody and a teen movie feel; deceptive for a tune about homelessness and mental health “especially after the year we have all suffered”. There’s a hint of Alex Turner in the vocal on ‘Step Out’, and the song fair cracks along with a good, big lift at the chorus. ‘Intertalker’ – thirty seconds of mood, and echoey guitar – leads into the extremely punchy ‘Sweet Talker’, probably the EP’s standout track, and as pop as a pop tune gets. It’s a big old helping of Arctic Monkeys, through that lens of pure pop. It’s not so much singable, as chantable. ‘Moonstruck’ is another belter; a drum-driven slice of old punk with razor guitars and plenty of energy and crashing about.
You’d think that the Crossfire Eagles’ biggest selling point might be the presence of Tyler, son of Def Leppard bassist Rick Savage, on lead guitar; but it ain’t. It’s their collective ability to write, play and pick a tune. Every song is gold, every one’s a winner. The 2019 single, ‘All You Know’ – remastered for inclusion here – is, in particular, just an outstanding four-minute pop tune, a bloody good single and – in old DJ money – a ‘surefire‘ chart-topper, mate’.
The EP closes with ‘Strawberry Fields’ – no, not that one – with a confidence and a ‘We Will Rock You’ stomp that suggests Crossfire Eagles already have their eyes on a stadium audience. It’s apparently about ‘a young kid looking up to his/her heroes and aspiring to be just like them when they’re older’. It might yet be self-fulfilling prophecy.
This lot look ambitious and on the strength of this EP they have every right to be. Joining Tyler Savage in the pack are Cumbrian James Wilson on vocals and rhythm guitar and ‘Ecclesfield-born-and-bred’ Keaton Barker on drums. In the tarot, the Major Arcana are the trump cards. This EP is packed with ‘em.
Listen to ‘Major Arcana’ here