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With their debut full-length release, 'Starting Gun', preceded by a fleeting taster last September, in the form of the 'Thunder Child' single and accompanying track, 'Lions Blood' (where's the apostrophe, guys?!), I've already had the opportunity to sample The Bad Flowers. And what did I make of this Cannock trio back then? Above average "high-end pub rock" that is "so dense with clichés that it's difficult to see how they'll find a gap in a scene already replete with retro regurgitation." Hmmm. Often, a full-length work can force a re-evaluation of previous judgements. Two isolated tracks can make more sense when posited within the context of a whole.

Opening the album are said two tracks 'Thunder Child' and 'Lions Blood' (the latter still missing an apostrophe), and I'm immediately reminded of why I asserted precisely what I did. This is Friday/Saturday night, end of the week, unwind with a few beers, pub rock... albeit, as I previously said, "high-end pub rock". And those initial two tracks, as it transpires, are pretty representative of the album in its entirety. There is, of course, some tempo variance, and rhythmic changes (the stomp of 'Rich Man' is pretty effective, albeit adhering to yet another cliché). Even this lot's track ordering is clichéd, as there's a predictably posited mid-album ballad.

Neat rock grooves fill out their sound; the musicianship is pretty good; and the vocals are stylistically suitable for the music, if falling short of any real sense of range, passion or emotional depth. And guitarist/vocalist Tom Leighton's singing is inexplicably warbly in many places, leaving me unsure if there's been some odd vocal effect applied, or his delivery is just prone to a touch of the old wobble.

Overall, then, this album, like last year's brief taster, is definitely above average. But that's all it is. Drummer Karl Selickis is quoted in press blurb as saying, "The album itself I think shows true dedication to a new generation rock revival." If that revival is taking place in pubs across the West Midlands and beyond, then I'm sure The Bad Flowers will win over many a beered-up punter. Otherwise, they fall well short of the scene's hegemonists.

With all said, it's a respectable effort for a debut full-length. Although it must be said, too, that the cover art for their 'Thunder Child' single is far superior to the rather bland and non-eye-catching artwork that features on the cover of 'Starting Gun'. Oh well, at least a just above average album cover reflects its content appositely.
Review by Mark Holmes
16th February 2018
1) Thunder Child
2) Lions Blood
3) Secrets
4) Rich Man
5) I Hope
6) Let's Misbehave
7) Who Needs a Soul
8) Be Your Man
9) Hurricane
10) I Don't Believe It
11) City Lights
"This is Friday/Saturday night, end of the week, unwind with a few beers, pub rock..."