Trying to explain the appeal of Snapped Ankles to a drunk guy in a suit at the End of the Road festival last summer was a situation that was uncomfortable for me and unnecessary for him. I was in the gin bar exploring my newfound love of old mother’s ruin when this guy in the queue asks me who I am seeing next. It just so happens that he has never heard of Snapped Ankles and so he then asks a series of questions like “Why? What’s so good about them?” and “What do they sound like, then?” in a more than mildly passive aggressive tone. Or maybe he was just taller and posher than me which always gets my heckles up. I tell him they are the bastard offspring of Can and Mark E Smith and post-punk and other reference points which he has no idea about. This is fine, of course. He thinks that makes them sound shit, although it is clear he has no idea who I am talking about. He tells me that Jeff Tweedy is something of a god in his eyes. It is time for me to make my excuses and leave.

Stunning Luxury, the second album from London’s woodland-obsessed, log-synth-playing, eco-centric, dashingly handsome weirdos Snapped Ankles moves the bar considerably higher from their brilliant debut album of 2017 Come Play the Trees. There are running themes throughout the album of development, gentrification and suburban living, which moves Snapped Ankles away from their own comfortable habitat of the woodlands as they come blinking into the light of the modern city, only to find the human horrors therein. This album is a document to a band not only playing with their own identity, but questioning the concrete world of bland people in bland suits that they see around them. The irony of the conversation with the man in the clean suit and his disdain soon becomes all too apparent.

If there is one criticism of this album (and there really is only one for me), it is perhaps that the first song isn’t as strong as it should be. ‘Pestisound (Moving Out)’ is the weakest song here, but it does set the thematic template for the album as a whole, and so could arguably be best seen as a prologue, a call to arms of sorts. The three songs that follow – ‘Tailpipe’, ‘Letter from Hampi Mountain’ and the recently released single ‘Rechargeable’ – are unrelenting in their immediacy, vivacity and exuberance. A better run of three songs on an album hasn’t happened since… well, for a long time. The first of these, ‘Tailpipe’, has been a staple in the Snapped Ankles live set for a couple of years, and lyrically plays off the imagery of both pollution and suicide. The genius of Bill Hicks is referenced, and the band clearly position themselves on his side in imploring those who work in marketing to end their sad and sorry lives. This polemic is set to a motorik pulse which is infectious and commanding.

There is a repetitive, thumping primal element at play across the main body of the songs here, which highlights a band growing in confidence and stature. The post-punk sensibilities of the band are most evident on ‘Rechargeable’, the almost childlike and effervescent ‘Delivery Van’ and the first single from the album ‘Drink and Glide’, and all of these tracks would have sat well on their debut album. It is in the development of the Snapped Ankles sound that the more fervent praise for this work should be reserved, though. ‘Three Steps to a Development’ wears the influence of ESG on its sleeve, with clattering cowbells, skittish synth lines and dampened bass highlighting the band’s ability to build layer upon layer of sound to a rhythmic and cacophonous crescendo of euphoria. ‘Skirmish in the Suburbs’ relies on an elongated build up, and shares a lot in common with the musical format of many acid house tunes from the late 80s and early 90s, as it builds and builds but never reaches a satisfying climax, maintaining a tautness throughout which references the frustrations found in contemporary urban living. This is protest music with the intention of mobilising the woodwose troops to reclaim what has been lost.

Stunning Luxury’s closing track, ‘Dream and Formaldehyde’, is a wash of synths and pensive percussion which hints at a Brian Eno/Kraftwerk dreamfest, and is the perfect denouement to the adrenaline-filled blur of tracks that have gone before it.

There is a sense of joyous community at a Snapped Ankles gig, and with this album they have managed what many bands of a similar ilk fail to do, which is to match the sheer energy of their live experience with their recorded output. If there were any justice in the world, Snapped Ankles would be one of the most talked about bands at this moment in time, but as this album itself highlights, there is a fight for reason which is taking a backseat to the lust for destruction for the sake of profits. The fact they are highlighting these issues makes us all winners once we submit and genuflect to their metrical mantras. Screw the guy in the clean suit.