You might remember The Ordinary Boys from back in 2004, with their punk and ska-influenced album, ‘Over the Counter Culture’. You might remember them from their hit single ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, reaching number 3 in the UK Singles Chart (and also being played in a Harry Potter film – and if that’s not a claim to fame, I don’t know what is). Perhaps you remember The Ordinary Boys from lead singer Preston’s time with heralded TV show, Celebrity Big Brother – but most likely, you remember The Ordinary Boys for their Britpop stylings – and now they’re back.
19th October marked the beginning of The Ordinary Boys’ UK tour, promoting their new self-titled album. Blasting them back into performance after a decade-long break was the intimate Exeter Cavern, a gig that singer Preston was looking forward to. With Charlie Stanley on drums, James Gregory on bass and Louis Jones on guitar (previously in the Spectrals), The Ordinary Boys gave Exeter all they had and more, winning them more than a few favourable reviews from gushing locals.
Listing their influences as The Kinks, The Smiths and The Clash (amongst other monosyllabic bands), The Ordinary Boys’ new album is not a full return to their raw past, but rather a middle meeting. ‘Awkward’ is a catchy track that talks to the chronic foot-in-mouth that lingers under the surface of most of us: ‘I was only joking/I shouldn’t have talked to you that way/I thought it might be funny’. Its overall tone is much closer to the original sound of The Ordinary Boys (minus the sock-puppet video), as is ‘About Tonight’, with its strong riffs and chorus. Much in the same way, ‘Panic Attack’ has a solid rock backbone with a taunting chorus à la The Sex Pistols’ admiring younger brother.
‘Disposable Anthem’ pairs slower instrumentals with sleepy, Morrissey-style vocals. ‘Four Letter Word’, as the main single of the whole album, is a polished, summery, indie-rock love song. Also a love song is ‘I’m Leaving You (And I’m Taking You With Me)’, but this one is much more like The Ordinary Boys we know and love, with a face-paced rhythm and the aforementioned Britpop feel. It’s also the one most likely to get stuck in your head, in my humble opinion.
It’s clear from the opening track, ‘About Tonight’, that with this album, The Ordinary Boys have mixed up old and new. As is often the case, the new can sometimes fall on unkind ears – especially if those ears were expecting the spit and spike of the early 2000’s. However, one thing’s for sure – The Ordinary Boys are swinging through their tour dates, and if the Cavern gig is anything to go by, they won’t be disappointing fans.