Album Review: The Bermondsey Joyriders – “Flamboyant Thugs”
You may have gathered this if you’ve been following them for a bit, but it’s safe to say that the career trajectory of the Bermondsey Joyriders has been anything but a typical one. Having initially broken through with their debut album five years ago as a bunch of spit ‘n’ sawdust slide guitar-favouring East End rock ‘n’ rollers, they proceeded to throw the mother of all curveballs with 2012’s Noise And Revolution release, a punk rock concept album which was a spot-on damning indictment of how the country’s been thrown on the mother of all downward spirals under the ConDem coalition. And I think it’s safe to say it left a few of us wondering just how on earth they were gonna top that.
Fast forward then to 2014 and we have the arrival of Joyriders album number three Flamboyant Thugs, and it’s safe to say that this could almost be seen as the album to bridge the gap between the group’s debut and their sophomore effort. The hard-hitting political message is very much still intact but there’s also signs of their rock ‘n’ roll origins creeping back in as the frenetic opener Sonic Underground and Black God Daddy make clear right from the get-go. However, the call to arms of Here Come The People shows that the political disquiet that put Noise And Revolution way ahead of the pack is still very much present, backed up by the return of former MC5 manager John Sinclair to provide a spoken word intro and outro to the ferocious title track, definitely one of the highlights here.
There’s also a sly sense of humour undercutting side two of this album as evidenced on Gentlemen Please and It’s Nice To Be Important (sample lyric “I want a Swiss bank account that’s full of wonga ‘cos it’s all downmarket living in Ongar”) which is balanced out by the punk assault of tunes like Just Like Me, but the Joyriders save the best till last with the slow-building anger of The Message, which crams all the dissent of the previous album into a sinister six minute epic with the message being simple – this country needs to change soon or something pretty damn bad is gonna happen. Great stuff and a fitting way to sign off a very good album.
So the big question then...is it as good as Noise And Revolution? If I'm being completely brutally honest, not quite although it does run it very very close. However, please don't let that dissuade you from checking Flamboyant Thugs out, it's definitely a very worthy follow-up to its predecessor and contains all the hallmarks that make the Joyriders such a great band. Make no mistake about it, when we come to look back on 2014 in seven months' time, this one will definitely be figuring in our "Albums of the Year" lists.