The Spitfires

After the huge acclaim gained on their debut LP ‘Response’, Watford’s finest The Spitfires are back with the eagerly anticipated follow-up “A Thousand Times”. Having set the bar so very high on their debut, could they take their music to the next level? In my opinion, maybe just!

The album opens with the title track and Billy’s now trademark unique vocal. It has that Moddy/Indie feel almost immediately and just about the right accompaniment of keys (Chris). Billy (vox) writes from the personal perspective and wears his heart and feelings truly on his sleeves. There’s a huge bridge before the song gently builds to a big climax, returning to those heartfelt yet painful lyrics. “Last Goodbye” has a nice twisted sample to open the song; matched by Billy’s heartfelt, storytelling lyricisms. Possibly a love song, yet that brutal honesty shines through again. The mid-section is huge while it has a sharp ending. The self-explanatory title says it all really!

“Day To Day” has a softer, mellower sound than its predecessors while Chris’s keys take the main part of the song. Dare I suggest a smidgen of Kula Shaker before a “Weller-esque”, in yer face vocal delivery sung with real passion. In fact, the middle 8 reminded me of The Jam’s “Precious”. Influences aside though it’s a strong song. “Open My Eyes” opens to the sound of lapping waves, making way for an acoustic-led ballad. The violins are subtle on this very personal song, which ends as it begins with the sound of the sea.

The Spitfires

“On My Mind” has a Who-esque intro, before the vocals kick in. Staying in the personal arena (lyrically) the chiming guitars take over as the sound builds to a fuller, more rounded sound. Perhaps an ode to a girlfriend or lover, the song just builds and builds. It has follow up single (to me) written all over it. The chorus is passionately sung until the finish. ‘So Long’ has the best intro on this collection, matched by the chugging beat throughout. Powerful hitting from Matt (drums) is a perfect accompaniment to Chris’s keys. The bridge is slightly long and the chords are ‘stretched’ with the subtle bass in the background, but it ends on a high.

“I Don’t Even Know Myself” speeds things up with added brass sections. All the classic elements are here within-keys, big hitting in places and a huge middle 8! I can just imagine Billy’s gurns and grimaces while singing this song live. There’s even a hint of Ska to end on. ‘The Suburbs (We Canít Complain): self-explanatory really, a storytelling account of life in the suburbs put to song. Nothing more to say really. A shimmering guitar part in the middle makes way for the chorus line “We Can’t Complain”, right until the end.

“Return To Me” begins with a British Rail announcement edit (why is anyone’s guess?! The soft, gentle intro I feel greatly lends itself to Weller in his Jam heyday. The keys and strings are impressive enough, I just find it overlong on the whole. Going against the grain of many a band who use a reprise track as their outro they use “On My Mind (Reprise)” as their penultimate track. I just don’t see where it fits here considering the length of at least 4 songs on this collection.

The LP closes with “A Better Life”. A wonderful guitar part accompanies yet another song of a subject matter close to the writer’s heart. Brutally honest and leaving no page unturned it goes for the jugular lyrically. A brilliant ending.

The Spitfires

Every now and then a band comes along; likened to The Jam/Paul Weller, charged with being the “saviours of British music”. First The Enemy, then The Rifles and now The Spitfires. Where the Spitfires differ is doing it on their own terms. Yes, one could make the obvious observations about influences, but this slow burner and grower of a collection of songs which marks a progression from “Response”. While I didn’t get the immediacy this time round of their debut, there’s enough on here to suggest The Spitfires might be around for a while yet. In an era of music that is largely karaoke it’s good to hear original lyricism and musicianship for a change, and long may that continue.

Track listing
A Thousand Times
Last Goodbye
Day To Day
Open My Eyes
On My Mind
So Long (Album Version)
I Don’t Even Know Myself
The Suburbs (We Cant Complain)
Return To Me
On My Mind (Reprise)
A Better Life


Review by Ross A. Ferrone.

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