Sons and Daughters, “This Gift” (Domino) [3.5 STARS]
With their earlier releases “Love the Cup” (2003) and “The Repulsion Box” (2005), it was easy to dismiss the Scottish foursome led by Arab Strap veteran Adele Bethel as a second-tier entry in the New Wave of New Wave movement spearheaded by labelmates such as Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys: Sons and Daughters’ dark, moody folk-punk brought to mind a Celtic version of X, but without the motivating grooves or particularly memorable melodies. “This Gift” amplifies the band’s assets, injects the previously missing ingredients and winds up a beginning to end winner.
Vocally, Bethel cuts loose on songs such as “Gilt Complex” and “The Nest,” evoking Debbie Harry with more range and the hint of a brogue as she romantically references Sylvia Path’s poetry or ’60s cinema while decrying these vapid and superficial times of celebrity obsession and reality TV. Meanwhile, the rhythm section veritably bounces off the walls, barely constraining its nervous energy long enough to stay in time through one three-minute explosion after another. With former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler producing, hooks that were only hinted at in the past are brought to the fore, and when it all builds up to an anthemic chorus such as the “whoo a-ooo” chant of the title track, it’s impossible to resist singing along.