Album review: The Struts – Pretty Vicious

Pouting, pretty, not especially vicious and occasionally dark return from Derby rock’n’rollers The Struts on glimmering fourth album…

Album review: The Struts – Pretty Vicious
Nick Ruskell

It says much about The Struts and their pouting, peacocking swagger that, even when it arrives at a time when everyone’s talking about how the Rolling Stones have made their best album since the ’70s and sound like men a quarter of their age, it’s taken none of the gloss off the flamboyant Derby crew’s fourth album. Like Mick Jagger, Luke Spiller is a man who sounds like he treats Tesco Express like Wembley Stadium in 1978, and probably dresses for the occasion. It’s an energy all present and correct on Pretty Vicious, as ever, bleeding glittering charisma and charm and oh-so-shagadelic character all over everything.

Largely, it’s a blast. Opener Too Good At Raising Hell even sets things off with a riff that doesn’t even hide the kissy faces it’s making a Keith Richards. Do What You Want is a rocket-powered glammy stomp. Rockstar lives up to its title, coming on somewhere between Guns N’ Roses and Creeper, with Luke promising that, ‘If you’re looking for a little bit of trouble then you came to the right place.’ Hell yeah, you think. In Struts world, the only two days of the week are Friday and Saturday, and then only the night-time bits. Hell yeah.

But there’s frequently a sense of knowing that the palace of excess isn’t a great place to live long-term as well. Too Good At Raising Hell finds Luke questioning the wisdom of ‘Staying at a party when everyone’s left’, albeit while preening like Austin Powers in a particularly fabulous mood, while on the piano-led Hands On Me he notes that, ‘It must be bad cos all my friends are recommending therapy’. ‘Feel like I’m barely holding on, lack of sleep from what I’ve done,’ he reflects on Bad Decision, adding that ‘[The] hotel bathroom’s filled with smoke, I wrote this down to help me cope.’

A drag, though? Never. As a born star, Luke Spiller remains a thriller, even when he’s taking a moment away from waggling his eyebrows like a Midlands Steven Tyler. And even if the songs sometimes lack quite enough bite, being too good at raising hell hasn’t stopped The Struts continuing to make music to do it to. Good.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: The Darkness, Queen, Greta Van Fleet

Pretty Vicious is released on November 3 via Big Machine

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