It’s been a big few years for Sticky Fingers, and we all know why. I won’t get into logistics, there’s been plenty of time for everyone to catch up and take sides. For once let’s address Sticky Fingers without the jargon, and just focus on their music. I think that’s what they’d want, and I think when reviewing music, it is integral to put aside thoughts and issues you may have with certain aspects of the artists and instead focus on their art. It’s easy to get caught up in reviewing the actual people rather than their actual talent. So, let’s get stuck into this new StiFi record.
It’s very enjoyable. It’s not ground-breaking in a musical sense by any means, it can come off as slightly generic at times, and personally it is far from their best work. But it's not bad! It is not to say Yours To Keep doesn’t possess the charm or wit from their previous work, but it does at times feel like it lacks a certain energy they were renowned for on their older LPs. Where some tracks falter in energy, others take you to soaring heights. It’s just hard to get through the bad to get to the good. Take for example opening track Sleep Alone, it’s a much slower and lacklustre beginning to the album. Rather than the dreamy and atmospheric openings of How to Fly, Land of Pleasure and One By One, this instead opts for a much more personal approach. It doesn’t hit all the marks unfortunately, coming off as a bit forced in execution and missing the heart and soul that the slower Sticky tracks are renowned for. Luckily all this subsides when the single Loose Ends follows up, it’s got such a thick bass-hook and the xylophones are enticing to say the least. On top of this it’s clear Sticky Fingers are delving deeper into pressing political issues, “This is a government’s world, so you better get a job”, “I’ll make a promise to break like the law does”.
It is not to say Yours To Keep doesn’t possess the charm or wit from their previous work, but it does at times feel like it lacks a certain energy they were renowned for on their older LPs.
Following up from Loose Ends is the second single Cool & Calm, which is a beautifully laid out track fitted with neat piano chords and crisp drum rhythms. Dylan’s vocals on this especially stand out, complimenting the production nicely, it most definitely the stand out track on this album. Regardless, it does definitely feel up unto this point that STIFI are in third gear, not creatively breaking any new ground and rather grabbing sounds from many of their contemparies. Whilst it still makes for an enjoyable listen, it is strange seeing how each of their previous albums carried a fresh sound, whereas Your To Keep feels very much safe in direction.
This is more than obvious in Another Episode, Not Done Yet and Kick On. All come off as somewhat generic and lacking any energy or passion. These aren’t horrible tracks by any means, they just don’t posses the flare of previous work. Another Episode and Not Done Yet both have sleek delivery and address some very personal issues as we came to expect, but they don’t have an emotional punch or weight that one might think. Not much more can be said for Kick On either, even when the chorus enters the fray it sounds same-same and nothing like a Sticky Fingers track, more like something from The Vaccines or Strokes. Honestly listen to the guitar progression in this track and it sounds an awful lot like them.
Luckily the second half of Yours To Keep is a bit more expressive, and similar to the STIFI of old. Hyper sees a nice synth roll throughout, a catchy horn section, and bombastic drums line the track. Lyrically Dylan has some real strong flow on this song and when accompanied by some gorgeous flowing synths nearing the end of the track it is clear that this deeper cut will be a fan favourite in the weeks to come. Sleeping Through The Flood is similar in it’s heart with some of the best drum fills and song progression in the album. It’s lowkey and nothing too loud, with even harps colliding with strings of guitars throughout. You listen to this track wondering where this level of confidence was in some of their earlier tracks, because it is definitely a cut above.
Title track, Yours To Keep is definitely the most emotional track on the LP. With simple piano and guitar chords that weave throughout underneath Dyl’s strong vocals, it pulls the heart strings when the drum loop kicks in. “She found lovin' in the wrong kind of place, yeah She said she needed shelter but I don't have the space And it's all covered in molly, yeah, I made a mistake” everything is laid on the line here, and it makes for a stunning 4 minutes, filled with raw emotion not yet seen on the record. Closer Junk, is vintage StiFI, spacey guitars and solos flirt alongside snappy drums making for a track that wouldn’t be lost on their older LPs. It’s a track full of joy in sound, something that has been lacking on the record, but in the albums final moments remains strong.
You listen to this track wondering where this level of confidence was in some of their earlier tracks, because it is definitely a cut above.
Yours To Keep is a strange album to review, it sounds like a band that was perhaps unsure at times of their overall direction and sound of their latest LP. It’s stand out moments are energetic and full of life, things that StiFi are renowned for. But it’s worse moments lack these qualities and feel like filler tracks at times, because of this it weighs down the album. It’s clear that they were going for a different sound than their other albums, which is great, but it unfortunately wasn’t executed across the whole album coming off as safe at times. Whereas, some tracks possessed that ambitious and relentless sound they were attempting, so it was quite hard to judge.
Overall though, Yours To Keep is a welcome return by StiFi, it isn’t the larger than life album that many were possibly expecting, but it’s quality moments hint that that is perhaps for the near future because they are far from done yet.