The Rifles are one of the most mod sounding of the current crop of Britpop bands falling somewhere on the spectrum between the power poppin' pub rock of The Kaiser Chiefs and The Fratellis on one end and the modish guitar driven pop of Oasis on the other. They are clearly influenced by Oasis, Blur, and the Libertines, but also by Paul Weller -- and more so The Jam than the modfather's solo outings. (One wonders if their name is a nod to "Eaton Rifles" which Weller has been known to play with the band on occassion?)
Their debut record No Love Lost paid the most tribute to The Jam with songs like She's Got Standards and Local Boy. There were flashes of garage rock ala The Strokes as well like on the spiky "One Night Stand". Overall it was a fantastic debut and along with constant touring has helped the band gain quite a following.
Then came The Great Escape and after delaying the release for a few months people wondered if the dreaded sophmore curse was going to claim another victim. Not this time. The album is stunning, perhaps better than No Love Lost. The songs have a flow and consistency that you'd expect from a greatest hits collection. They sound like old friends, and yet have a freshness to them that keeps them from being derivative. The simple Britishness of "Winter Calls" with its ringing guitars and catchy chorus makes it a contender for the strongest track on the disk. But it has stiff competition from the lushly orchestrated Oasis-like title track, as well as the early single the tightly wound, hard driven "The General" which comes unglued with thundering guitars and keeps the pace racing on for nearly five minutes, make it twice as along as many of the rest of the songs in the mix.
The Rifles are supposed to be bringing the show to the states but so far is only dragging their feet across the eastern part of the country. Here's hoping they turn left and make it out west sometime soon.