About Young Knives
This witty and creative post-punk revivalist trio formed in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, England in the mid-'90s, settling on the Young Knives name in 2002 following their relocation to Oxford. Comprised of brothers Henry Dartnall on guitar and Thomas Dartnall (aka House of Lords) on bass, alongside drummer Oliver Askew, the siblings shared vocal duties with Henry usually taking the lead. Produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill, it was their late-2005 single "The Decision" which started to get the band noticed. 2006 brought three further Gill-produced singles -- each hit the U.K. Top 40 -- as well as the accompanying Mercury-nominated debut album Voices of Animals and Men. 2008's follow-up, Superabundance, fared equally well critically and commercially and 2011's Ornaments from the Silver Arcade retained many of the elements that had made their first two records a success. However, 2013's Sick Octave and 2020's Barbarians, saw them delve deeper into the experimental side of English post-punk.
In their original incarnation as Simple Pastoral Experience, the trio reputedly aped their indie predecessors Ned's Atomic Dustbin. After a two-to-three-year hiatus, the band regrouped as Ponyclub in 1999, and once in Oxford began to embrace more angular sounds. On signing a deal with the city's Shifty Disco, they noticed that another band named Pony Club was emerging from Dublin and quickly renamed themselves the Young Knives after misreading the phrase "young knaves" in a Scottish history book. The mini-album …Are Dead was issued in 2002, eventually bringing them to the attention of London's Transgressive Records, which placed them on the same bill as the Futureheads and Hot Hot Heat ahead of their 2005 limited-edition debut EP for that label. The success that came with 2006's Voices of Animals and Men led to them playing more live dates that year than ever before, and caused their singles to become prevalent across U.K. alternative radio that summer and beyond.
In characteristically self-deprecating fashion, the band chose to put an image of a motorcycle in burnout on the cover of 2008's Superabundance. However, it was an even tighter, sharper effort than their debut and from this point on they dropped the definitive article from their moniker, becoming the sleeker Young Knives. By the time of 2011's Ornaments from the Silver Arcade, they had parted with Transgressive and the album was issued on their own Gadzook label before 2013's self-produced Sick Octave saw them take a darker, more discordant path. The 2015 limited Something Awful EP extended their experimentalist approach before the band entered a four-year hiatus. Their intense 2019 comeback single, "Red Cherries" -- as well as the following year's Public Image Ltd.-influenced "Sheep Tick" -- set out their stall for 2020's Barbarians. ~ James Wilkinson