The Rails get their latest album, Cancel the Sun, off to a rocking start with opener “Call Me When It All Goes Wrong.” The song comes with an equally rollicking video, premiering exclusively on Billboard below.
The clip, conceived by the Rails’ manager Martin Kelly and his filmmaker brother Paul Kelly, features the quartet playing the song while a youth played by Paul Kelly’s son is chased through the streets of London. He eventually arrives at the door of the building where the band is performing.
“It’s a cliffhanger,” singer-guitarist James Walbourne, who co-fronts the Rails with his wife Kami Thompson, tells Billboard. “We do that with every video. Paul has made a lot of films about London, documentaries, and he and [his brother] are a very London-centric sort of filmmaking duo. They’re an inspiring couple of people.”
The song itself came from an observation about a friend of the couple who, as the title indicates, deals with an assortment of issues. “It originated over coffee one morning,” Walbourne recalls. “Kami said that [line] and I said, ‘That’s a great lyric!’ We wanted it to be like a poppy punk song, really, sort of half the Replacements in a way.”
“That’s more akin to the stuff we listen to, really,” says Thompson, who is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson and is part of the Thompson family band.
The song’s rocking tone is indicative of moves the Rails made in that direction on Cancel the Sun, which in turn builds on what the duo explored on 2017’s Other People after the folk leanings of 2014’s Fair Warning. “It’s a natural progression, really,” Walbourne says. “We felt far more comfortable doing it, I would say. We didn’t see why it couldn’t [sound] harder. It’s nice to have elements of electric songs and acoustic songs.”
Adds Thompson, “I think people used to be more accustomed to hearing a more varied record. Beatles records would be bonkers. So it doesn’t feel odd to me to have a mix of styles on one record. I feel like they hang together here.”
Walbourne and Thompson, who worked with Edwyn Collins on their first two albums, credit Cancel the Sun producer Stephen Street with “making it all hang together” on the new album. “We had a pool of songs and sat down with him and we chose the 10 we thought would be best-suited,” Walbourne recalls. “His production style made it all work in a way that makes it cohesive. This is our third record, so the door is open to experiment a little more now. We don’t have to be scared of trying other things with our music.”
The Rails recently wrapped up U.S. dates with Rufus Wainwright and will tour the U.K. throughout October. The band were happy to make an album at home in London as well.
“We knew we wanted to do something slightly different,” Thompson says. “Through conversation between James and myself, we touched on the Smiths and Graham Coxon, and we realized Stephen Street was involved in a lot of those. So we realized we’d very much like to work with him and we were lucky enough he fancied doing it.”
Watch the video for “Call Me When It All Goes Wrong” below.