Nothing screams “the small world of Britpop” more than a Carnall brother doing yet ANOTHER side project with ANOTHER ex-or-otherwise Arctic Monkeys member. Milburn’s Joe Carnall and Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders teamed up this year to create and explore the heavy influence of technology.
This is the first album produced by the two Sheffield boys, with Carnall penning the songs and Helders as the producer of the record, releasing their single “Silk and Leather” in February as a little sneak peak for what the synthy and techy album has in store.
The self-titled record from Good Cop Bad Cop opens with a chill and moody stride, with “When You’re Not Winning” and their single “Silk and Leather”, easing listeners into the electronic basis of the record. At first appearing monotoned and adopting a similar tone as Alex Turner, both opening tracks become somewhat catchy over time, both carry a similar beat and character. The record takes a boppy turn into “Sharp Shooter”, mimicking the synth sound of a dodgy 80s club pop tune, “and just to break the ice / we’ll need a box of lighting” almost takes you to that setting, where two overly hairsprayed heads and dolled up faces meet under neon lights. “Times New Roman” slows down the tempo, into a sultry syncopated beat balanced with a steady rhythm, and a very similar guitar sound to that of The 1975. The track adopts a clever and witty literary motif, “Don’t be the one to let Freud slip” and further by comparing themselves to others- with the help of an amusing twist on the Microsoft universe- “We’re Times New Roman / and they’re Comic Sans”. Picking up the pace, “End of Level Boss Part 1” acts as an intermission for the first section of the album, the intro coming straight out of your favourite childhood video game.
The record’s middle ground is probably the most emotive and enticing section of the album, introducing three key songs: “Quarter Past June”, “Taste The Danger” and “Landline”. The collection of songs placed together in regards to the structure of the album provide a communal strong point for the record, or the peak of the record as a whole- showing an even balance of both ends of the album.“Quarter Past June” tells a tale of growing up and the difficulties and reluctance of doing so, “Don’t be so hard on yourself girl…. Before we are thrown in the deep end / why don’t we go where we know we still can”. The track acts as an anthem of youth who all struggle with the familiar feeling of being lost or rushed into growing up. “Taste The Danger” is one of the record’s strongest tracks, single material even. With the catchiest beat and upbeat feel, the track shows the most level of dynamic and cooperation of vocals and instrumentation, and best production on the album. The poppy track “Landline” draws the peak back down the slope, slowing things back down into the ‘second intermission’ if you will, “End of Level Boss Part II” which appears a bit more disjunct than the first, taking a hard plummet towards the end of the album.
Concluding the record, “Time Crisis”’s sci-fi vibe talks of growing up and reminiscing on innocence, and is definitely one of the stronger songs from the album. It holds the most structure and charm about it, using the computerised synth and Stranger Things-esque tune to accompany the memory of a simpler youth, full of video games and imagination. “End of the Beginning” brings the record to a powerful close, providing a perfect end to the record and quite literally the end of the beginning of the Good Cop Bad Cop era. Carnall and Helders capture the essence of youth and the simplicity of life before technology- or at least technology as this generation knows it to be.
Holistically, the album as a narrative structure works well, successfully carrying the underlying theme throughout every track. In terms of instrumentation it’s hard to judge when all it is is synth and some bass, each track using a similar- if not the same- sound and level. The album did grow on me over a couple of listens, at first it wasn’t my cup of tea until I found myself singing “Silk and Leather” around the house and at work. The overall production sound is almost a minimalist version of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino with a touch of AM, obviously an inspiration or personal sound for Helders. The message that the record brings forward is a perfectly accurate representation of the newest generation and the brainwashing of technology, forcing older generations to reminisce on the memory of childhood innocence and the simplistic throes of their youth.