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Ten at 10: The Xcerts - ‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’ Ten Years On…
08 October 2019
As 'In The Cold Wind We Smile' turns 10 this year, we take a look back at The Xcerts' debut record from 2009.
The Xcerts first came to my attention when I saw them in 2010 supporting Fightstar on a cold February evening in London. Like any kid that was at their very first rock show, I was blown away by the band’s gargantuan presence, raw energy and ability to create such a thunderous sound as a three piece. Little did I know this was the start of something beautiful as they were the first band I took pictures of (albeit from the crowd with my Dad’s point-and-shoot), with the resulting images giving me a great sense of pride that sparked my passion for music photography. Since then The Xcerts have become one of my favourite bands, following them fondly as they put out 4 incredible records, pushing their sound with each release.
The band’s debut record In The Cold Wind We Smile had been set free into the wild for barely a year before it became a favourite among fans and personally holds a lot of sentimental value. Being one of the first albums I had on heavy rotation from start to finish as a teenager, discovering this type of hard working DIY band for the first time was as inspiring as it was exciting. ITCWWS takes the listener on a nostalgic journey throughout with emotive songwriting delivered with such vigour and rage, even the album title and artwork [see above] gives a hazy sense of melancholy.
We’re eased into the record with the title track as a dreamy intro layered with a beautiful guitar arrangement, glimmering xylophone, background chatter and Murray’s ‘da da dum’s play out and sparks the nostalgia that transports us into the world of In The Cold Wind We Smile. The album then bursts into life with the fast paced instrumentation on Home Versus Home, touching on topics of love and loss with the poignant lyrics “I lost love, you lost your father, I know it doesn’t compare, my heart and your despair, but, it’s all part, of home versus home” and this high-octane songwriting carries on through belters ‘Nightschool’, ‘Crisis In The Slow Lane’ and ‘Do You Feel Safe?’. My favourite tune on the record is ‘Listen. Don’t Panic’ which starts with some great lyrics, “Maps are not what I think they are, they leave me lost at night just like ships in the dark” which fit perfectly with Tom Heron’s drumming that drives the song. Entwined with Murray’s jangly guitar playing and the familiar jingle of the xylophone, which adds a certain charm to the record, the song crescendos into a huge outro of ‘Come on’s accompanied by equally as massive instrumentation that has become a signature for The Xcerts.
“Hey you, do you remember me?” Murray asks as The Xcerts bring everything down a notch and, much like the intro to the album, this closer is just as magical. Stripped back and vulnerable, ‘Aberdeen 1987’ is an acoustic track that almost feels like a conversation with frontman Murray, that leaves a mellow taste to end this ride with and tells a tale of moving through life with all the relationships, trials and tribulations along the way. You can almost feel the chill of the cold night air as the track ends with Murray and some gang vocals howling, “And now it’s cold outside, and your screams are loud, and I’m trying to wrap up, I find it hard as I stumble to the ground.”
Like so many other Xcerts fans, this album set a marker for falling in love with the band and the stories they tell through their music and In The Cold Wind We Smile will stay with me forever.
Along with a reissue of the album accompanied by some bonus material, The Xcerts have announced a 10th anniversary tour across the UK later in the year. Tickets can be found on their website.