Highlights: Girl Of The Year, The Summer I Met You, The Last Song
Two feelings at work here. One: The End Of The Pier sees The Distractions doing the absolute best they can. Two: however ridiculously consistent, well thought out and well-written this album may be, the songwriting just never threatens to raise them above ‘well, another good band from Manchester’. Lovely melodies, decent hooks, pleasant vibes. It is just that the excitement is way too measured and moderate.
You can imagine them coming to the studio 32 years after their previous (and debut) album, Nobody’s Perfect, with a clear intention of recording 10 perfect Distractions songs. No filler. And the interesting thing is – they succeed. They achieve that. It is just that you wanted more.
In some way, this record reminds me of Whipping Boy (particularly their eponymous, posthumously released third) – the main difference being the lack of that sweeping emotional edge the Irish band was so good at. But while this is a lot more placid and understated, eventually slow-burning tracks like “Too Late To Change” or “When It Was Mine” will charm you with their soft and pretty guitar lines and gentle, unobtrusive vocal melodies. Some of it may be more immediate, like the masterful pop-rocker “The Summer I Met You” (nice bass line!), but overall it is all quite mellow. The sad, quietly desperate “The Last Song” sounds like a fitting closer.
In the end, The End Of The Pier leaves a very pleasant aftertaste. There’s no getting away from it: it’s a very good album. And way too good to be great.