Declan Welsh and The Decadent West sensibly start their debut album with a bang. Or a ‘banger’ to be more precise. No Fun, is a savage tirade against ‘that guy’ at a party. The rent-a-gob excruciating dullard. The type who inevitably grows up into the Charmless Man Blur sang about thirteen years prior. It’s a song worth cranking up the volume for.
The rest of Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold could be described as everything from ‘varied’ to ‘muddled’, depending on taste. From the indie/disco feel of How Does Your Love to the lounging, longing of Be Mine. It’s not quite ‘something for everyone’ but it’s certainly ‘here’s what we’ve got’.
As a debut, this is more a collection of singles than a unified album. However, so was Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This album succeeds in laying out Welsh’s lyrical talent as well as the musical talent of the band. On Do What You Want there is a faint whiff of Johnny Marr’s Smiths-era guitar flourishes.
This album will inevitably draw comparisons to early Arctic Monkeys (more like Partick Monkeys – ba dum tsk!) and will no doubt strike a chord with young Scottish males. Declan Welsh may be from East Kilbride but the experiences he articulates are borderline universal.
The latter half of the album picks up in pace but is equally jack of all trades, master of none. No band should hem themselves in creatively but the album flickers between styles, tone and pace rather than soars, although the band are certainly talented enough to do so.
The penultimate track The Dream is a manifesto from a band that never wants to go home and a band that will work hard enough to ensure they never will. The final track Times at nine minutes certainly pushes the boat out, but it’s well worth listening to until the end…
Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold is lyrically capable and musically diverse, if unfocused. It’s an excellent debut album showcasing their talent and as long as they never give up on The Dream, we should have a few classic albums to look forward to.