Album: 22-20s

22-20s, HEAVENLY
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The Independent Culture

Here's a rarity: a British debut bulging with raw blues power, wielded with a panache that belies 22-20s' teenage years. It opens like a bolting horse with "Devil in Me", built around a riff so natural it seems to have existed forever, waiting in some siding of the line that runs from the Stones through The Cramps to the Blues Explosion, for someone to stumble across. Fortunately, 22-20s' songwriter Martin Trimble brought it to light, and added the twitchy slide-guitar break that snakes through its later stages. Its closest rival is the new single "22 Days", a searing, R L Burnside-style stalking blues boogie which producer Brendan Lynch has done a brilliant job of capturing at its amped-up, overdriven peak, without sacrificing clarity. As a writer, Trimble sticks mainly to the eternal blues verities, running variations on the themes of love, loyalty, betrayal and attraction. And save for the country-blues "Friends", in which women "move like hurricanes", he keeps things plain-spoken - as might be expected of a man who resists the urge to modernise, preferring instead to "hold on to the things that are real". Musically, too, his band holds on to the real things, with a seemingly effortless swagger that recalls modern American bands rather than fellow Brit-rockers: if they're not the British White Stripes, it's only because they're the British Kings of Leon.