AGE OF CHANCE 'One Thousand Years Of Trouble' (Virgin V2473/CD)

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POP SATIRE is a hollow laugh, whether it's the cartoon buffoonery of Westworld or the tight-lipped scepticism of Terry Hall.
You can only play the game for so long before people start asking questions or, more specifically, start asking just what it is you're after. Which is where we encounter Age Of Chance…

I've long had my suspicions about them, whether it's the Tour de France couture or the pseudo-Futurist ranting that characterises their present incarnation. I've been suspicious because I've never believed that, behind all the bluff and bluster, there was any real substance to this venture, that Age Of Chance had any real objective.

Never has a band been so aptly misnamed, and for once this is an unintentional irony. There is nothing random about 'One Thousand Years' and, I fear, nothing spontaneous. But herein lies the fundamental problem with Age Of Chance - what they consider their strengths are, in fact, their weaknesses and vice-versa. All they really want is an escape clause, to be able to turn around at the end of the day and say: "Ah yes, but we didn't mean it..."

Which is where we catch up with them now, full-blooded and keen to impress. But are they so keen to commit themselves? First impressions say no; this album is littered with half-digested truisms that even Five Star would baulk at, a recourse to cliche that obstructs any real progression.

But press on. Age Of Chance may seem heartless but they're not totally artless, there's enough evidence here to bear witness to that, principally on the opening 'We Got Trouble'. Although, for the most part, 'One Thousand Years' is just a catalogue of references, some cooking, others just half-baked.

But for now, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt - the self-deprecating warmth of ‘This Is Crush Collision' ("Leeds, Detroit, Berlin, New York") redeems them at the eleventh hour. However, there's still a slight problem: Age Of Chance say they're not afraid of the Big Bad Noise, but this is an awfully frail house they've built themselves.

"Are you ready to raise some hell? / We're raisin' hell with decibels”- 'Ready Or Not, Here We Come'.

Age Of Chance are playing with fire. They're OK for the moment, but woe betide them if they intend to push their luck. For the moment, I'm pleasantly surprised. Let's hope I never have to say I told you so.