Here are some reviews of the debut album, ‘Optional Wallace’.
“Now I’ve lost track of whether good old fashioned edgy post-punk indie rock is fashionable or not right now, and less still do I care, and clearly neither do Optional Wallace who attack the genre with some gusto on this their debut album. It’s been some time coming – the band first emerged around 2006 with early support from Lamacq, XFM and indeed ourselves – catching them for the first time early in 2007 we noted impassioned vocals, deep rumbling bass and references to the Manic Street Preachers, Chameleons and Editors. All of which are still present and correct here – to the point where it’s been pretty frustrating seeing bands like White Lies, a clearly well-connected bunch who were still doing sub-Franz Ferdinand art-pop under a previous name back in 06-07, selling out colossal venues with a by-numbers take on such things and without a fraction of this Mancunian trio’s brains or indeed balls. They set their stall out early with “What Goes Around”‘s choppy riffs and edgy commentary, followed by live favourite (well mine, anyway) “Generation”. This being a musically rousing but lyrically disaffected lament for a generation who have nothing to say, which writing this the morning after watching the Manics doing a Greatest Hits set could quite easily have escaped from it. Not a bad thing at all, that, and Airtight’s Tom Knott has done a fine job on piling in the power given that he’s got just a tiny fraction of the Manics’ budget to play with. The rest of it carries on in much the same vein with “Can’t Explain” doing the soaring thing and “Courting Paranoia” the angry thing very well – no surprises, then, but if you want a quality collection of powerful, gloom-laced yet uplifting indie rock like you thought they didn’t make any more, then rest assured they do.”
:: Optional Wallace :: 31 January 2011 / Squealing Beagle Records / 8 Trk CD By Cath Aubergine
“As a band name Optional Wallace is somewhat enigmatic, evoking at least a sense of democracy and, perhaps misleadingly, of claymation too. Whoever they are, whatever their agenda, Optional Wallace are at least giving the people something current to think about, having taken their cues from best parts of the past.Their core of intricate guitar, driving bass and pounding drums eats up spiky post-punk structures in “What Goes Around”, and equally lets fly punchy, Manic Street Preachers-like vitriol in the slick cut “The Ladder”. Crunching bass-work sets “You Will Get What You Deserve ” apart as an imposing new-wave monolith, and depth and range is added to the band’s self-titled debut thanks to the anthemic slow-build of “Can’t Explain” on which Manchester’s iconic grey makes itself all too known.” Rob Gannon, ‘First Glances’ – (sic) Magazine.
“Not the crazily-monikered brother of writer Danny or retired-footballer Rod, Optional Wallace are in fact a three-piece hailing from Manchester, releasing their self-titled debut.
Offering the kind of rock songs with a message that the Manics are noted for, Optional Wallace stick two fingers up at the current laissez-faire culture of modern society. “Our generation has nothing to say” they bemoan on the storming ‘Generation’.
The album is peppered with lyrics that’ll make you think – even some of the titles, such as ‘You Will Get What You Deserve’, tell you this isn’t your run-of-the-mill indie debut. Usually the lyrics are about breaking out of your hometown or your misspent youth; here it’s all more weighty and significant, yet without ever sounding self-righteous.
The spiky guitars and pounding drums of ‘The Ladder’ are a highlight, and the punky ‘Code of Silence’ is a belting album closer. Even the token slow song, ‘Can’t Explain’, is an absolute winner. This is an incredibly polished for a debut effort from a band on a DIY label. Some kick-ass harmonies, as showcased on ‘Courting Paranoia’, coupled with distinctive vocals – think Interpol – make this a very intriguing record indeed.
If there is just one complaint, it’s that it’s too darn short. Eight tracks doesn’t feel like enough, and Optional Wallace will leave you craving more.The album is peppered with lyrics that’ll make you think – even some of the titles, such as ‘You Will Get What You Deserve’, tell you this isn’t your run-of-the-mill indie debut. Usually the lyrics are about breaking out of your hometown or your misspent youth; here it’s all more weighty and significant, yet without ever sounding self-righteous.” Album Review by Michael Pilcher for High Voltage
It honestly legitimately excites me how much a specific and current crop of British indie bands channel the indignation and fury that the Manic Street Preachers were known for in their early days. Groups like The Indelicates, Johnny Boy, and now Optional Wallace are finding that political apathy is just as rampant today as it was twenty years ago, and like their favourite bands of that period they’ve decided to do call us out on it. This Manchester three-piece have perfected their tight, muscular sound, accentuated with pounding percussion and interplay between the guitar and bass that pulls and tugs anthemic tunes like “The Ladder” into punchy shape. Like the best post-punk and indie rock of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the music and lyrics crafted by Danny Foster, Neil Meehan, and Matt Anderson are equally angry and give this, their debut full-length, a searing effect that British indie rock hasn’t had in years or, depending on whom you ask, decades.
By Laura, From A High Horse – Top 25 Albums of 2011