Having grown up in a household where music has always been a core component, I’ve been pretty lucky. Over the years we, as a family of five, have gone to see the likes of Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Manic Street Preachers… the list goes on. These are all bands that have a huge place in my heart because they, in some way or another, have contributed to my upbringing – Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ reminds me of the first family holiday that I can recall, Iron Maiden’s ‘Edward The Great’ compilation album was one of the first that I took from my Dad’s CD rack and listened to on repeat, each Foo Fighters album has almost functioned as a time marker at stages in my life for as long as I can remember. You get the idea.
I grew to love all of those bands thanks to my parents’ influence. It’s a different ball game all together when you develop a love for a band that you discover yourself, and my first instance of this came in the form of The Enemy.
This Coventry band, comprising of Tom Clarke, Liam Watts, and Andy Hopkins, formed in 2006 and released their debut in 2007. ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ is and always will be one of my favourite albums. Tracks such as ‘Aggro’ and ‘Away From Here’, and lesser known ones such as ‘Happy Birthday Jane’, speak to me in a raw, emotion-fuelled way. I remember my Dad comparing them to the likes of The Jam – even just looking at their mops of greasy hair and Adidas Originals jackets, you could tell who their influences were – but to me they were better. There was a modesty and honesty to their approach that made me want to stand up for them as though my heart depended on it and sing along to ‘You’re Not Alone’ to the point where I lost my voice.
Their debut reached number one in the UK charts and, two years later, they followed it up with ‘Music for the People’. It reached similar commercial success to its predecessor, kept from the number one spot only by musical legend Bob Dylan, but wasn’t as popular critically. Did I care? Not in the slightest. The band had clearly approached this release with more confidence, as the whole album sounded better produced and there was a bit more swagger in the style of the music – tracks like ‘No Time For Tears’ and ‘Be Somebody’ were clearly geared towards the larger venues that they were set to play shows at, tip-toeing around the label of being stadium rock. While I kept ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ as my own little secret from my friends, ‘Music For The People’ was an album that I was telling people to listen to.
Although the mid to late ‘00s was a very healthy environment for like-minded British rock bands, the turn of the new decade was not; the likes of The View, Razorlight, and The Wombats struggled to make any significant impact past their first couple of albums. With the resurgence of R&B and electronic acts, the same could be said of The Enemy. Three years passed before their third release ‘Streets in The Sky’ which offered little more than their Sky Sports destined single ‘Saturday’. My remedy to this underwhelming release: ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ on loop and a side helping of ‘don’t worry Giacomo – it’s not their fault’.
I then took a step back from not only The Enemy, but guitar-based music all together. Everyone hits a point where they start listening to different things to see if the grass is greener – mine came in conjunction with university. It was much needed. I had a few years of indulgence in various branches of the musical genre tree, hip-hop in particular, and all seemed fine and dandy. Well, it was, until The Enemy popped up in October 2015, like an ex that I’d never really got over, saying ‘Hey, did you miss us? We have a new album coming out!’… Of course, I obliged.
‘It’s Automatic’ was a crowd-funded release that I pre-ordered without hesitation in order to get a signed LP. The album sleeve simply featured the trio looking straight ahead into the camera, hair all trimmed and tidy, with ambiguously blank expressions on their faces. The album itself was a great improvement on their previous release, very much returning to the raw sound of their debut, but there was something quite downbeat about it all, something slightly melancholic about the overall tone.
This tone was explained by the band’s announcement only a few months later that their next tour would be their last; just a few dates in September/October time, coming to a climax with three hometown shows in Coventry. My heart well and truly sank but it made sense. All good things come to an end, right? Then again, even when that end eventually comes, music is eternal, and I doubt many albums will remain as important to me as The Enemy’s debut.