Sleave – Don’t Expect Anything (Engineer Records)

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I was never “cool” enough to be a Smiths fan and, truth be told, even if I had been hip and happening enough to have been one of the NME darlings who were down with Johnny Marr’s wunderkind, it wouldn’t have mattered as I didn’t “get” The Smiths when they were doing the rounds in nineteen eighty whatever.  Back then, if music wasn’t short, fast and loud, hadn’t been shaped by carrying the weight of the world on its back and didn’t reject anything and everything that the rest of society so heartily embraced, it didn’t interest me. The Smiths became an object of ridicule, a false idol worshipped by indie morons who, as far as I was concerned, knew nothing about the real underground.

 It took nearly twenty years before I finally “got” Manchester’s finest and eventually owned up to being a punk rock snob whose self-imposed rules and practices had shut him off from a world of incredible music. Of course, by that time The Smiths were long gone and all that was really left to continue their legacy was Morrisey and unless you’ve been hiding out in a cabin in the woods waiting for the rapture to happen or the apocalypse to reign down on humanity you’ll know how gleefully Stephen, after revealing his inner most political and personal beliefs, has sent his career spiralling into oblivion. Like many of his fans, when Morrisey opened his mouth and decided to try and intellectualise his idiocy, I waved him goodbye, headed for the door and resigned myself to the fact that everything The Smiths were died in that unthinkable and impossible moment.   

Then, out of nowhere – or more accurately Virginia, Sleave arrived and all was right with the world once more. If The Smiths had been a Revelation band that had emerged during the dying moments of the Revolution Summer and had then embraced the “emo” movement pioneered by Deep Elm and No Idea and spearheaded by Hot Water Music, they would have sounded exactly like Sleave. This band have taken everything that The Smiths were and turbocharged it with enough energy to power a small city and over the course of Don’t Expect Everything, a record imbued with deeply moving, beautiful melodies and crushing Hardcore power in equal measure, they’ve not only rescued the memory of The Smiths, they’ve also secured their own, richly deserved, place at the forefront of the modern Hardcore scene.  Heaven knows I’m happy now… Tim Cundle

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