Album Review: Giant Killers – Songs for the Small Places

Originally recorded in 1995, Giant Killers’ lost debut album provides a uniquely nostalgic snapshot of the culture and sound of the time

Here is a weird one. Three decades ago, indie pop duo Giant Killers signed to MCA Records and released two singles, they also however, wrote an album that for one reason or another never saw the light of day, and are now in possession of their own rights and can finally release a body of work that was recorded back in 1995.

The enduring appeal of 90s indie rock and the melodic, yet gruff nature of their sound means that Songs for the Small Places feels as much at home today as it did 30 years ago, and that is immediately apparent on the album’s first track ‘Around The Blocks’, a track that is evidently of its time stylistically, but has a winning charm and appeal that feels timeless thanks to their affable charisma and thoughtful writing.

‘Who Am I Fooling?’ follows, a raucous and upbeat track that is punctuated by pounding rhythms and engrossing synths, creating a real sense of fun and dynamism from the moment that it starts. Another deliciously catchy chorus and a raft of relatable and resonating lyrics provide the album with more universal appeal.

A more subdued and introspective side to the duo emerges on ‘When This Time Is Over’, a track that sees Jamie Wortley taking a thoughtful look around at the (mid 90s) world around him and the way that times are changing and things are coming to an end, a message that feels just as poignant and takes on something of an even deeper meaning when so far removed from the time that he sings about.

The core of the album lies in the very human and vivid stories that are painted through the narratives, in what will now feel like a nostalgic and distinctive lens. There is a working class heart to the album that feels especially potent on tracks like ‘Billy The Kid’ and ‘For The Money’, almost transporting you to certain times and places through themes surrounding things like factory work and spending time with mates.

Things slow down a little on ‘I Hoped One Day You Would Know My Name’ and ‘Let Me In’, the former being a track that serves as the de-facto ballad on the LP, packed full of poignant strings and keys and a real sense of heart. There is a really earnest and powerful tone to both of these tracks, and it does a great job of providing a bit of respite from the more cutting and gritty moments that the album has.

The quintessentially 90s feel of the album comes shooting back on ‘This Is The Time of our Lives’, exploring things like nightlife and enjoying the pleasures that being a young adult had to offer at this time. The unabashed sense of fun and charisma that the duo have in abundance shines through on the track, and it is this kind of personality and character that makes you think that these releases would have really stood out amidst a 90s music scene that was as much about being a winning personality as it was anything else.

As the instrumental ‘For The Small Places’ winds the album down, it is hard not to find yourself in contemplative fashion after listening to an album that was robbed from Jamie Wortley and Michael Brown for so long. The result of its late release however, makes Songs for the Small Places into something of a different listening experience entirely, serving as a time capsule back into 90s England and the culture and distinctive charm that came with it. The track’s stand up on their own today musically, but it is this authentic and nostalgic feel to them that elevates them to a modern listener and gives it a real lasting appeal.