Album: The Twang, Jewellery Quarter, (B-Unique)
Reverend and the Makers, A French Kiss in the Chaos, (Wall Of Sound)

Where are pop's working-class heroes?

Two years ago, The Twang were pitched by a music press visibly thrilled by the prospect of a group of proper lads who got into actual pub fights as a kind of Brummie Mondays.

The truth quickly emerged that they were more of a Midlands Uproar, and that their media cheerleaders were the type of bourgeois class tourists who secretly hate the proles (because they think this sort of baboonery is all we're good for). That The Twang got to release a debut album was understandable. That they've been allowed to make a follow-up is nothing short of baffling.

Give or take the odd bit of Brazilian percussion ("Barney Rubble") or toytown synth ("Twit Twoo"), Jewellery Quarter consists of flimsy indie-pop with knock-kneed lyrics ("I will quickstep over the rooftops to get to your house") and the fumbling romanticism of the inarticulate brute ("Can we forget tonight and go back where we started?"). When they do attempt subtlety on "Williamsburg" and "Another Bus", it's like watching a bulldog attempting the dance of the sugar plum fairy. I want everyone who's ever given them a positive review to look me in the eye and tell me this is a good record, without corpsing. You can't miss me. I'm the one with the hair.

Reverend and the Makers also employ a post-Madchester indie-dance template, and their second album begins with a particularly witless sampling of War's "Low Rider" with sitars over the top, but next to The Twang they're geniuses. The Sheffield band actually do possess a little of Ryder's chemically-damaged poetry, when they can be bothered. The Vance Packard-inspired "Hidden Persuaders", with the chorus "you're free to do as we tell you", proves that at least Jon McClure's read a book that wasn't a car manual and, coupled with "Manifesto/People Shapers" (which tackles the illusion of democracy and the power of media magnates), suggests subliminal subterfuge has got under his skin.

Similarly, while the Sixties whimsy of "Professor Pickles" does little for me, at least the Electric Prunes lyric ("I had too much to dream at night") shows they've listened more widely than whatever's playing at Yates' Wine Lodge. Vital signs will always beat a flatline. But if these two records really represent prole-pop in 2009, is that the best we can do?

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