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The Pigeon Detectives


File under a raft of post-millennium, indie-rock acts, one could almost lump this quintessentially English-flavoured quintet alongside KAISER CHIEFS, ARCTIC MONKEYS and The LIBERTINES; the fact that their inaugural gigs in ’04 supported the latter’s offshoot project, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, was probably no coincidence. Still, it’d be unfair to, er… pigeonhole a band who were darlings of the music press and radio DJs up and down the country, but the hype can only last so long until it wears thin; arguments for their pogo-friendly produce was their two Top 5 albums and a run of anthemic hit singles.
Formed in 2002, in Rothwell, West Yorkshire, the Leeds-based 5-piece were the automatic choice of DJs Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley to playlist on Radio One. Comprising school chums Matt Bowman (vocals), Oliver Main and Ryan Wilson (guitars), Dave Best (bass) and Jimmi Naylor (drums); the latter having superseded Paul Spooner, The PIGEON DETECTIVES emerged from their rehearsal loft (one assumes) to play locally before performing in front of large crowds at the annual Reading and Leeds festivals in 2006.
Impressed by their youthful vigour and laddish swagger, Dance To The Radio Records wooed the lads into their lair, releasing debut 45 `You Know I Love You’ that summer. Although its limited edition numbers left it bubbling outside the official charts, it paved the way for a quick-fire succession of Top 40 hits by way of `I Found Out’, `Romantic Type’, `I’m Not Sorry’ and `Take Her Back’. All spawned from their meteoric three-chord/wide-boy debut set, WAIT FOR ME (2007) {*7}, it certainly gave rivals KAISER CHIEFS a run for their money.
Spurred on by the platinum-seller, `This Is An Emergency’, kicked off their 2008 campaign in fine style, while its parent, Stephen Street-produced sophomore album, EMERGENCY {*5}, was decidedly weaker than its predecessor. Brit-pop had died with the split of BLUR many moons ago, but that mattered zilch to the PDs who were on a mission to revive, not only that genre, but the worst bits of power-pop from the late 70s. Matt’s take on witty and biting lyrics, styled a la Alex Turner, was past its sell-by-date; proof-in-the-pudding was the failure to reach Top 50 status for both the `Everybody Wants Me’ and `Say It Like You Mean It’ singles.
The near failure to launch for album number three, UP, GUARDS AND AT ‘EM! (2011) {*4}, surprised no one, except, possibly the band, whose time among the big boys was coming to an end. Still, the record did manage to dent the Top 30. 2013’s WE MET AT SEA {*5} – a one-off for Cooking Vinyl Records – came off a little beefier and better by comparison, although the simplistic manner of their hum-a-long ditties (`Animal’, `Hold Your Gaze’ and the disco-fied `Light Me Up’ were worth a listen), guaranteed long-serving fans something to hold on to.
Slipping from their perch chart-wise (no near Top 40 peak this time), The PIGEON DETECTIVES went back to basics for 2017’s BROKEN GLANCES {*6}. The facts were clear: they hadn’t lost their post-Britpop sound; the bad news was that indie rock/pop had moved on leaps and bounds. There was uneasy step along the synth-pop corridor, however, in loss-leaders such as `Lose Control’, the 6-minute `Munro’ and the raucous `Stay With Me’, the Pigeons looked again to be flying in the wrong direction.
© MC Strong/MCS Apr2013-Mar2017

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