What Would Jesus Drive? - Fragile Mansions (EyeSeeSound)

It’s hard not to instantly fall for a band with a name like What Would Jesus Drive. With a stark shakedown on religious belief surely on the cards, the name breeds the kind of pant-wetting salivation reserved only for the most dedicated atheist.

Released Feb 28th, 2011 via EyeSeeSound / By Richard Kemp
What Would Jesus Drive? - Fragile Mansions (EyeSeeSound) This four-piece make it very clear from the get-go that they’re not about to take down the monarchy nor spit on any conformist bastards. They are, however, here to have a ruddy good jig. Title track 'Fragile Mansions' comes off to a rollicking start with space-age air synth flying about harmless pop punk guitars that wind up to a sparkly crescendo. While all this goes on, lead vocalist Tim Box hollers out some entertaining quips at the modern club scene: "Here he comes with immaculate hair. Got the voice of an angel and clean underwear".

Second track 'Dirty Old Week' initially sounds like a Ting Tings cover until very promptly flipping into the more grungy side of pop punk. Box’s pounding vocal delivery alongside Amy Casey’s high-pitched offerings works far better in this song than in the title track, with the pair cracking out further jabs against meaningless, drunken culture: "I’m tired of the boys I’m with getting way too pissed on the way to the nightclub, I’m tired of girls I’m with leaning in for a kiss when they’ve only just thrown up."

The slightly ominous 'Watching Girls Fighting' drags you into a darker place from WWJD’s first two tracks while final number 'Victory' trails off quietly with Amy Casey’s vocals tingeing over her aching, lonely bass.

While WWJD don’t really try anything new with this release, Fragile Mansions’ production levels feel polished to a squeaky clean finish. There are plenty indie rock influences on their pop punk sound and, lyrically, they push out the kind of average man prose that made Arctic Monkeys so accessible, but there’s nothing to stop us looking at every other lo-fi indie punk band around. Their sparse use of twinkling air synth in the middle of a straight-up pop song is encouraging, so perhaps they could use more electronics to help themselves stand out on further releases. Also, although their lyrics are all too familiar, they have a brash realism to them that make them seem like something out of an episode of Eastenders were it written by Alan Bennett.

Performed live, WWJD most likely bring the party every time, but their recordings don’t offer enough of that distinction.