By Ciaran Foreman
After years of trying to get it right, recording and releasing new singles and EPs, playing on the main stage at TRNSMT, signing a record deal with Parlophone Records before making their USA Debut at a festival in Texas, you’d think when their debut album landed at an extraordinary number one, that maybe just then, they’d show a slight ounce of cockiness.
What followed in celebration was an image, dominated quite rightly by the golden Official Charts Company plaque to signify the achievement, alongside the golden lid of Buckfast Wine, perched quite comically on a Limited Edition Assai Records W.L. Vinyl, with the caption “Whitburn f*ckin loopy #1”.
Whitburn fuckin loopy #1 pic.twitter.com/3cMQnuXcm6
— The Snuts (@TheSnuts) April 9, 2021
In a way, the photo sums up the band to a tee. If you hadn’t made the correlation between W.L. and the aforementioned Whitburn Loopy, the picture and album title is a celebration and homage to the birthplace and local young team (gang) of four extremely talented band members; Jack Cochrane, Callum Wilson, Joe McGillveray and Jordan MacKay. You may also know them as The Snuts.
The Snuts have been making music for a long time now, yet their recent meteoric rise in popularity feels like the so called ‘big break’ that artists and bands work so hard for. Symbolically, their journey can be followed when you listen to their song ‘Glasgow’. Originally released in 2016 as a Demo track, and a catalyst to the bands rise in popularity, the song today has over 3 million streams and was remastered for W.L, with Jack Cochrane (Vocals/Frontman) saying he wanted it “to be the song that kind of introduces this record into the world”.
Cochrane recalls the remastering of the track taking place, with each band member taking a bottle of Buckfast to the studio and recording it live. Glasgow begins with a slow harmony with the iconically unique vocals of Cochrane coming in, before the song well and truly kicks you in the face. Its incredibly energetic sounds make it a must see live performance.
In an interview with Tenement TV in 2016, Cochrane describes the meaning of the song following its initial release, saying that the inspiration for ‘Glasgow’ was that “everybody wants to have more and be more, putting all their faith in the big city when ultimately there is no place like home.”
The pre-chorus and chorus are a testimony to Cochrane’s words:
When the big bad city won’t call your name
And the clouds won’t clear
The sun’s to blame
Jump on my back
And I will take you home
When the roads stand still
And the birds won’t fly
Roll your stone
To clear your mind
Jump on my back
And I will take you home
I’ll always love the way that you say Glasgow
W.L’s tracks such as opener ‘Top Deck’, and ‘Boardwalk’ have a more sincere and fragile feel to them, which although are not as hard hitting as ‘Always’, ‘Juan Belmonte’ and ‘All Your Friends’ – which feature some great fuzzy guitars and riffs that will endlessly bounce about your brain – they sit very well placed in the album to break up the intensity of those songs, while bringing an insight into the emotional side of the band.
Track 5, ‘Somebody Loves You’, released in support of the Scottish Refugee Council is the one you’re most likely to have heard on the radio. Its delicate and cheesy lyrics make it hard to dislike the song, and certainly cements itself as the most mainstream on the record. That being said, it is a wholesome three and a half minutes I would recommend if you want to put a smile on your face.
The middle of the album finds ‘No Place I’d Rather Go’ alongside ‘Glasgow’, with the former being the track I feel carries the least substance but will still get you singing “Ohh ohh ohh ohh” over and over again. By no means is it a bad song, however, it fails to flourish due to its position in the album – nestled between two very strong tracks in ‘Glasgow’ and ‘Boardwalk’.
The next four songs, ‘Maybe California’, ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk)’, ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ and ‘Elephants’ provide what I feel is the most fun to the album. With ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk)’ being the only other explicit track on the album alongside ‘All Your Friends’ with the hilarious ad-libs of “F*ck Your (Favourite) Band”, these songs deliver a sensationally well executed feeling that The Snuts are having a laugh throughout all of this – while making it sound brilliant.
The closer to the album – before the final four deluxe tracks – is another remastered version of The Snuts’ 2016 Demos, with ‘Sing For Your Supper’. Coming in as the longest track on the album at 6 minutes 19 seconds, the song carries a very intense, emotional feeling which was also prominent in the Demo version. The remaster has been slowed down compared to the 4 minutes 56 seconds long Demo track, and you can hear the maturity in Cochrane’s voice in W.L’s remaster, although some would argue the raw emotion to the original makes it a better listen.
The final four tracks gently conclude an excellent album, with songs that make you feel like you can finally take a breather from the largely vibrant 45 minutes beforehand. ‘Blur Beat’ carries one of the most lyrically impressive choruses on the track, with words that don’t appear to be elegant coming across so beautifully, Cochrane should be applauded:
And Buckfast, f*ck-fast
Race you to your crematorium
Picture perfect pandemonium
All day, all night
Exceptionally always compelled to be tainted
F*ck, that’s just the way you behave
The way you behave
The front man yet again displays excellent vocal ability in ‘4 Baillie Street’ and ‘Waterbirds’, however ‘Microwave’ stands out as the most interesting of the final four tracks with its fascinating sounds. With the first minute of the song feeling almost anxious in its build up, all pressure seems to lift with the silkiest of guitars slicing through the song, releasing any angst and completely changing the dimension of the track in its second half.
As equally entertaining as this album is, so too were the Twitter spats between Scottish fans of The Snuts and fans of Demi Lovato, who were very upset that Lovato’s album didn’t make number one, yet four boys from Whitburn with a dream to bring guitar music back, achieved it against all the odds.
W.L. is fantastic. Its wide range of sounds and feelings that they invoke make it a captivating listen, and I believe that is why it will last the test of time. It’s no coincidence that the album’s debut at number one makes The Snuts the first Scottish band to do so since The View achieved the feat in 2007 with ‘Hats Off to the Buskers’.
The band’s success makes it all the harder to take that the pandemic has halted the live performance of the album in front of their fans. Music is so culturally important in Scotland, as it is worldwide, and that has been shown with The Snuts selling out The Barrowlands three nights over, and with many upcoming gigs across the UK in high demand despite the uncertainty around when these will take place.
But with recent announcements and route-maps outlining a way out of this mess, there is a glimmer of hope for music fans that live shows will return in 2021, and The Snuts will be desperate to take to the stage, to celebrate the journey that both the band and the fans have been on, and most of all, to celebrate Whitburn Loopy.