By Chris Moore:
RATING: 3.5 / 5 stars
Earning a spot on the 2007 edition of the Alternative Press’ “100 Bands You Need to Know” list didn’t bring Locksley any closer to recognition even from an independent music store regular such as myself. In fact, for such an under-the-radar band, Locksley has accumulated quite the resume in their six years together. Aside from being featured in magazines like SPIN and Elle, their music has appeared in conjunction with multiple retailers, they have played live for both Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, they have opened for bands such as Hanson and Rooney, and they have the distinction of being the first unsigned band ever to have their music played on MtV.
I truly had no inkling of any of these accomplishments when I noticed a somewhat beat up copy of Don’t Make Me Wait in the used CD rack of my local Newbury Comics store. Their very simple packaging and retro look caught my eye, and despite the fact that I could have produced this cover on a Windows 95 computer, I had a good feeling about the look of the band.
And, for $3.99, I figured, how could I go wrong?
Well, the answer is, you couldn’t with Locksley.
Theirs is a derivative sound, to be certain, and it rings strongly of early sixties Beatles. Perhaps most prominently, there’s a “Twist and Shout” John Lennon-esque crackling lead vocal on “Let Me Know,” and the dual leads throughout many of the songs will lead any fan of Please Please Me-era Beatles to draw comparisons.
And yet, Locksley is not simply a Beatles rip-off, a band begging to be sent back to stagnation in cheap bars only interested in cover songs. There’s an uncanny blending of garage rock with their roots-based sound. In fact, for all the blunt distortion guitars and their practically punk rock mentality, there is no confusing this band for a sixties group.
Don’t Make Me Wait is probably best described as the best of both worlds, and it is clear that Locksley is playing around, experimenting with harmonies (which are subtle in some places, beautiful in others), lead guitar parts, and overall composition. The title track leads off the album, and sets the tone for what is to be an upbeat, energetic collection of tracks. The dual lead vocals are as interesting and excellent as ever on “All Over Again,” just as their vocals on “My Kind of Lover” hint at the potential for truly great vocal work on future releases. Still, my favorite aspect of this album — and the reason I have listened repeatedly — is the tremendous lineup of catchy, quick tunes like “Into the Sun,” “Up the Stairs,” and “She Does,” to name only a few. As soon as one ends, the next kicks in with just as much energy as the one preceding it.
In this sense, their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. Locksley’s Don’t Make Me Wait suffers from the shortfalls of a sophomore release. It is energetic, fun, and brimming with potential, and yet there is nothing about this record that is so unique as to be outstanding in and of itself. Even a track like “All of the Time,” simple as it may be, suffers from the “one-gear” mentality they generally embrace on this record. I feel certain that they are poised to flex a considerable range, particularly from songs like the “For You” suite that closes the record, the bonus track “Safely From the City,” and even the alternate performance of “All of the Time” I’ve heard on YouTube.
Don’t Make Me Wait is an album that expresses considerable potential, and ironically, fans have had to wait since 2006 for a true follow-up to this record. As recently as last week, the follow-up album Be in Love — originally scheduled for release this week — was pushed ahead to late February for digital and mid-March for physical.
Waiting appears to be the name of the game.
While we wait, Don’t Make Me Wait is a youthful, vibrant album that captures all the drive of an unsigned band, living from one gig to the next. That somehow translates on this record, and it is that energy and sincerity that compels me to look past the derivative nature of their sound. How their next album plays out will suggest a great deal about this band’s ability to evolve and make progress without losing all the rock and roll ground they’ve gained here.
The fact that we have to wait until March to reach a verdict only adds more anthemic meaning to this opening track, “Don’t Make Me Wait”!