Concrete Knives, Be Your Own King

Andrew Mueller

By Andrew Mueller

on 02.19.13 in Reviews

It is an enduring unfairness that ’80s pop is stereotyped as the home of pompous choruses, big-shouldered blouses, billowing dry ice and unnecessarily elaborate haircuts. The same period, especially in Britain, bequeathed the glorious legacy of post-punk, which inventive and curious

Commendably unabashed, ’80s-channeling pop

groups still find interesting ways of investing, three decades on.

While it would be accurate to note that Concrete Knives, of Caen in northern France, are largely preoccupied with plowing ground first broken about 30 years ago, it would be altogether wrong to characterize them as pious curators of a period they missed out on. Though it sounds like the band members own few records made since they were born, their pure-hearted reverence for such early ’80s post-punk groups as Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure and Gang Of Four has resulted in an album that is intriguing and often glorious good fun.

Concrete Knives rigorously observe one of the cardinal rules of the post-punk genre: terseness. The 10 tracks on Be Your Own King are rattled out in a squeak over 34 minutes. Concrete Knives are not, however, humorless minimalists; at heart, they’re a commendably unabashed pop group. Witness the giddy shout-along chorus of “Brand New Start,” which recalls The B-52s, the surging Joy Division bassline that carries “Happy Mondays,” and the raggedly triumphant opening track “Bornholmer,” which boldly posits that Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” is territory worth mining.