Album Review | The Snuts Make Protest Rock Fun Again With Burn The Empire

The Snuts have come bounding up the charts once again with their sophomore record, Burn The Empire. The Glaswegians are quick off the mark to follow up their anthemic debut, W.L., and this time there is a fire burning in front man Jack Cochrane’s belly. This time, he really has something to say.

The band arrives with such a swagger and confidence on this record, with a clear knowledge of what they want in their musical direction as Burn The Empire takes a slight turn in tone from the bubbly indie rock tunes of the first album.

Burn The Empire was released at the perfect time and not a minute later, as the band spearheaded a campaign against their label Parlophone, to get it out weeks earlier than originally planned. The Scottish newcomers back up their rebellious spirit as the theme for the majority of this album is social justice, and that is how we begin this angsty thirty three minute LP.

Our opening title track is a call to arms that has unsurprisingly excited audiences in the past year when performed live – the passion in the anthemic chorus of ‘Burn The Empire’ would bring the fist of the most introverted indie fan aloft in a sign of defiance. One of the main strengths Snuts demonstrated on their previous record is their capacity to create crowd ready indie bangers, and ‘The Rodeo’ offers just that. It’s easily one of the band’s best tunes to date, encapsulating the festival energy that Snuts thrive on.


The second protest anthem of the record comes in ‘Zuckerpunch’. This track is as on the nose as its title suggests, hammering home Cochrane’s frustration and distrust towards social media while harking back to a time when our phones “only had a few games”. It’s in these moments where the album loses its edge slightly. While most of us will agree our collective screen time in the past fifteen or so years is monstrous, it’s a slightly dated take that is a little overused. Particularly when other parts of the album deal with much more pressing social issues such as crime, classism and abject poverty in the UK (’13’).

The instrumentation on the album is always exciting though. Samples and drum beats borrowed from their hip-hop influences keep this indie outfit feeling fresh. It is fair to say some tracks are saved from mediocrity due to the band’s fun musical choices, with ‘Knuckles’ in particular brought to another level because of its delicious synth lines, while ‘Zuckerpunch’ is somewhat rescued by the rocking guitar solo at the end, reminiscent of the late 1960s. The Snuts are taking a bold step forward musically with Burn The Empire, and their standard of production has really improved here – even if you feel it sometimes compensates for simplistic songwriting at times.

We get a wonderful surprise feature in Rachel Chinouriri on ‘End Of The Road’. Heartfelt strings lead us to Chinouriri’s lines as they entwine with Cochrane’s vocals beautifully, in a cocktail of soul that breaks up the tempo of this album nicely. It’s a shining highlight of the album, while ‘Pigeons In New York’ completely sums up what the band is going for with both sound and meaning – including a stunning metaphor for the pointlessness of discrimination combined with heavy drums and guitars that get you up and dancing – this one really hits the spot.

The band take a risk on 80s techno influenced ‘Cosmic Electronica’, which features muddled lyrics and a slightly dated robot-voice. This one leaves the listener scratching their head wondering how it made the cut, and even though ‘Blah Blah Blah’ finishes the album in fine fashion with heavy guitars, a stronger track with more feeling (‘Pigeons In New York’ perhaps) might have hit harder as a climaxing end.

A rollercoaster of energy at all times, The Snuts have pushed the boat out a little further in sound with Burn The Empire, even if it doesn’t always stick the landing. Ultimately, the band knows what they’re good at and when they flex that particular muscle, this sophomore album shines at its brightest.