In my mind, The Hoosiers belong to that generation of indie-rock bands from 2007⁄8 that have faded into obscurity as the genre ebbs out of popularity and out of the charts, right alongside The Pigeon Detectives and Scouting For Girls. I didn’t even know The Hoosiers were still making music until they appeared on the bill of a local festival I was going to. And unsurprisingly, they were playing this festival alongside Scouting For Girls, The Feeling, The Fratellis and Razorlight – like I said, 2008 all over again (for reference, it was brilliant feeling like I was thirteen again).
The Secret Service is the fourth studio album from The Hoosiers, released for download on 9th October and on CD on the 16th, and the first to be released since bassist Martin Skarendahl left the band. Originally intended to be a series of EPs released across the year, the eleven-track album is a little tough to get into. The tracks don’t seem to fit well together and lyrically, nothing stands out or seems to be found that is noteworthy. This is obviously not a requirement of a great album, but the combination leaves the listener with a need for just a little bit more.
That’s not to say that the album doesn’t have a gem or two. The two singles released, The Wheels Fell Off and Up To No Good, tracks 2 and 3 respectively, are upbeat and give that sense of positivity found in classic Hoosiers songs like Goodbye Mr A. These songs are perfectly suited to The Hoosiers sound and to frontman Irwin Sparkes’ distinctive voice. The Wheels Fell Off is reminiscent of The Cure, who the band cite as an influence.
As good as these songs may be, they both are in the first half of the album. The first track on the album, Pristine, starts off upbeat and happy but falls a little flat as it goes on and this seems to set the tone for the rest of the songs on the album. Dancers In the Dark, track 5, is a beautiful song on its own merit, but it doesn’t sit right between the electro keyboard solo at the end of I Will Be King and the immediate sharp beat of The Most Peculiar Day Of Your Life. This song is possibly my favourite on the album, but this could be due to the nostalgic way it takes me back to The Hoosiers songs I remember from being thirteen. Tracks 7 to 10 on the album carry on much in the same way as Pristine: they’re not bad to listen to, but you don’t remember them as soon as they’re over. The final and (almost) title track, (My) Secret Service, is an anti-climax and the album fizzles out with a slightly disappointed sense.
The album’s strengths definitely lie in the singles already released, and I can’t deny that the album grew on me the more I listened to it in order to review it. However, I remain unconvinced. The two days I spent listening to the album may have convinced me to not be as put off as I was upon my first listen, but there isn’t anything to convince me to keep listening past this point. If you feel like a venture into the nostalgia of the indie-rock of eight (woah!) years ago, then I would recommend a listen, but don’t expect to be taken on any kind of wild ride.