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December 14, 2004

The Ordinary Boys – Over the Counter Culture

“Originality is so passé”, sings Sam "Preston" Preston on The List Goes On – Track 2 on the Sussex-based band’s debut LP – giving him licence to liberally rip off such musical luminaries as The Jam and Morrissey throughout the rest of the album. Once we have the boy’s acknowledgment of his debt to the greats, the listener can enjoy his tunes at face value. And they’re cracking – the title track is storming, urgent guitars building up to a blistering mute trumpet solo. The rest of the songs can’t top it, brilliant as they are (mostly).

Then you listen to the lyrics and that’s where the problem with the Ordinary Boys begins. For one thing, Preston’s trying too hard to produce witty, oh so British lyrics, in the vein of Mozzer, Davies and Dammers that it just doesn’t really work. Each song takes issue with an aspect of contemporary British life, creating a strong theme to the work, which is quite commendable but just leads to the Boys’ output being really samey. They don’t seem to have much of a message except that “Modern Life Is Rubbish”, and we all knew that after Blur told us a decade ago. Week In, Week Out attacks consumerism; Seaside and Weekend Revolution scoff at the drudgery of the British workplace. A solution seems simple: why don’t we just become carefree individualists? Because if you’d paid attention at the start of the album, 007, it seems we can’t: “Now it’s in to be out”, he sings in what I perceive to be a rather derogatory tone. So what’s it to be, Preston? Are you just taking pot shots at any lifestyle choice going so you can build up your Angry Young Man image in the eyes of the NME? Or are you just being ironic? If so, the Mozfather does it better.

Listen to OTCC for the tunes but skip Track 5, a cover of The Specials’ Little Bitch which has no place on the album – by all means play it at Glastonbury with special guest fat man, Phill Jupitus, but it’s too rubbish for anything more.


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