Review of Before and After Album by The Wannadies

The Wannadies - Before and After
The Wannadies - Before and After - Album Review

The Wannadies

Before and After

Before and After sounds like The Wannadies are about to live up to their name and end their careers. It plays out like a retrospective of all their greatest ideas, in chronological order since day one. At the start, this just reminds us of the innocent, star-spangled Wannadies of their first real worldwide introduction on Be A Girl, and so whilst listening through the first half of Before and After you suddenly feel a pang of worry that they might well go through with it and top themselves. While there are a couple of duds – the album tends to sprinkle the highs and lows randomly rather than make a real ‘mood playlist’ – this is otherwise pretty much all good stuff. Great, poppy Scandinavian rock with a load of emotion and a bit of an edge – what more could you want?

Music - The Wannadies - Before and After - Album Review
At the end of the nostalgia, you’re introduced to the ‘after’ section (though perhaps after receiving a little more through the idea of an album being split up for the two sides of a cassette tape…). I don’t think that the band picked up many fans after basically having been introduced on Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet to the kiddy teen crowd, and then releasing an much darker album, although it went down fairly well with the original fans. ‘Yeah’ didn’t go down too well with the general public either, but from the looks of this album it looks as if they’ve learnt their lessons well. ‘Singalong Son’ is a lovely, almost dub-styled tune and is probably the focus of the second half, weighing in as it does at a less-than hefty 3 and a half minutes – but still being nearly the longest track – and the first half has some gems in ‘Little by Little’, ‘Piss on You’ and ‘Skin’. But its not too surprising that they appear to be favouring the earlier style for the singles.

Many of the best tracks are ridiculously short here, dripping with their trademark catchiness – the band haven’t tried to pad them out with minute long keyboard noise solos, a la Yeah, which is an mind-bogglingly good thing. This isn’t all power chords and harmonies though – they’ve learnt from their experiences, and while the bleeps and squeaks are present, they’re just a little further from the front than before. It just seems a little bit of a shame that whilst they’ve honed their production style a fair amount, there aren’t enough strong songs to push this boat out further.


Mark Danson