The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Future Kings of Spain Nervous SystemReview Snapshot: A fantastic follow up to their eponymous debut album, Nervousystem puts to rest the myth of the ‘difficult second album’ and reminds us just why the Future Kings of Spain were tipped for greatness four years ago.

CLUAS Verdict?  9 out of 10

Full Review:
For almost two years, the Future Kings of Spain have sat on Nervousystem, difficulties with their record label almost turning the LP into their very own Smile. However, earlier this year, common sense prevailed and the band was free to release the album on their own What’s the Kim? label. Due for release at the end of September, Nervousystem has most certainly been worth the wait.

From the moment Guess Again (with riffs that Billy Corgan can only reminisce about these days) opens the album, right through to the last vestiges of Disappear, you know you are listening to something special. Nervousystem is the Emancipation Proclamation of alternative indie rock. It’s a statement to those who listen to this particular genre of music, imploring them to forget everything they thought they knew, free their minds and absorb the possibilities that come from being willing to make music that is truly different.

‘Why can’t you do what I ask of you?’ asks Joey Wilson in his trademark disinterested drawl on Syndicate a song that’s eight minutes of infectious rock rave which, whether you’re in your sitting room or on the DART, makes you want to dance. Not even had Prince, Robert Smith and Peter Hook grown up in North Kildare/West Dublin, could they dream about writing a song as well constructed and as instantly mesmerising as this.

It’s the perfect centrepiece to an album that deviates away from the youthful, full-blooded, angst of Face I Know and drifts seamlessly towards a more melodic, mature sound. Wilson along with guitarist Karl Hussey, bassist Anton Hegarty and drummer Bryan McMahon appear to have unabashedly embraced the philosophies of the albums producer Ian Grimble and adopted a skinny jeans and leather jacket clad indie rock sound that isn’t afraid to take its younger sister to a Kylie concert.

The results of taking this risk are, for the majority of the album, positive. Stand out tracks Guess Again, Chemical Burn and, my personal favourite, Kick in the Teeth absorb you in the way The Pixies might, yet you can hear them sitting quite comfortably between A.N Other pop tart and The Next Big Things on any commercial radio station, without selling the very essence of their soul the way Snow Patrol did. The only time it fails to sparkle is on the frustrating You Dream in Solid Gold which builds and builds but never quite climaxes.

Overall, it’s difficult to criticise an album as arresting as Nervousystem. You want to put it on repeat but are afraid that by overplaying it that it will lose its appeal. So far it hasn’t. I said at the start that, given the headaches involved in ensuring its release, this could have been the Future Kings of Spain’s Smile. Instead, it may well be their Pet Sounds.

Steven O'Rourke

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Nuggets from our archive

2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).