The Battle for 2nd Place – First
What makes a band Irish? Is it that 50% or more of the band must come from Ireland, or do they just have to have one member? The Battle for 2nd Place are a Scottish-Irish band, which is predominantly Scottish, but with an Irish frontwoman, surely they have to be considered as being from the Emerald Isle. And sure those Scots Celts aren’t all that different from us anyway.
Orla Prendergast’s vocals and Dave Watson’s lead guitar are the driving sound of the Battle for 2nd Place, who hark back to the 90s of Hole and Garbage with their debut album, First. The album combines frenetic rock riffs and slower, more ethereal tunes in what may have worked better as a Side A and Side B record, or maybe a double album along the lines of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
I may have thrown out many 1990s references already, but this is a record for adults who grew up with MTV, back when MTV played music. The faster-paced tracks, such as the first three, and particularly ‘A Better Chance’ and ‘More Chorus Than Sense’ sound like they’re straight out of the Killing Heidi songbook, and are a wonderful throwback to times long gone.
If the album was this energetic throughout, it could have been brilliant. Forget about how albums sometimes need black and white, that they need contrast. Forget all that. Sometimes you just want to rock out for a solid 40 minutes. Even if it’s at your desk with your headphones on. Bring back all those bedroom rocker moments of your teens. Because when the Battle for 2nd Place are at their best, it all comes flooding back.
This album will have you returning for more, taking you back to a better time, but unfortunately the weaker, slower songs mean that when you do return, you’ll just come back for the rock. A mixed debut, but definitely a worthwhile debut.