Last summer saw Rixton have a worldwide hit with the soaring single that is Me & My Broken Heart, and in April the band released their debut album Let The Road in America to smash the Billboard Top 40, even though the four piece call Manchester home. The ten track wonder finally saw release on this side of the pond today, and for someone who usually takes a fairly impartial stance to the whims of pop-rock chart music, this first full length offering knocked me back a step or two.
Everyone knows that Rixton are well oiled in the matter of penning and delivering a hit, with that catchy choruses and infectious beats that we’ve not only seen in Me & My Broken Heart, but also in more recent Wait On Me and most recent addition to the band’s singles, We All Want The Same Thing. Though the last of these might be a bit of a grower and it’ll take a few listens to push past the remarkably smooth yet bracing falsetto vocals, it’s still a huge earworm, if a little repetitive.
Though everyone loves a fun single, it’s not quite enough to build an album on them alone, and Rixton kick off and wind up things a bit unusually for an album that’s bound to be a mainstream hit. Opening title track seems to use the same acappella warm-up style that The Wombats used back on A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation, but if you’re none the wiser to this then it’s a refreshing change from most intros. Coming full circle to close with similarly minimalistic Whole is another nice trick, and no matter how well executed it feels, there’s the distinct feeling it is a technique they’ve thrown in.
These little tricks crop up throughout, from the lighthearted reggae style in I Like Girls to the inclusion of Speakerphone, one of the track that first got the band attention on YouTube. Although it’s easily my personal favourite off the album, scribed by Ed Sheeren, Hotel Ceiling feels like another token on the record despite the emotive lines hidden in the soaring sound of the chorus. A rockier edge in four minute Beautiful Excuses and a surreal, lullaby slant on affectionate on Appreciated complete the round of styles the band stretch themselves across, even if they are all brilliantly produced and well polished.
To say how long it’s been since Me & My Broken Heart came out, and considering this is a only a debut album, I’ve a feeling that Rixton wrote a couple of dozen songs and then were told to narrow it down to ten. Maybe they were told to cover a range of styles or tick as many boxes as they could, but it feels like they’ve chosen songs which fit ever-so-neatly into categories – floor filler, sentimental number, set closer. The tracks themselves are all impeccable, but it feels like someone told Rixton how to create the album, and it’d have been interesting to see how it would have turned out if they’d had their own control of the track list. Based on this, I expect a “deluxe edition to follow”, with another single, a ballad, and an acoustic number.