The Ordinary Boys
B-UNIQUE 23.10.06

Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to love The Ordinary Boys. I thought ‘Talk Talk Talk’ was brilliant and I played the whole of Over The Counter Culture so much I ska’d myself silly. Fair play to Preston, the ‘Boys’ were getting desperate and, rumour has it, were on the verge of being dumped from their record label, so he decided to go on a reality TV show. Bearing in mind that I didn’t really see much of Big Brother, I’ve not really got much for or against it, except that Preston suddenly came out of the house as much less of an enigma and… complaining about being famous.

I could (and have in the past) talk for hours about how much this annoys me, but I try to restrain myself. The question is: Why complain about something you wanted so badly? And the fact that the first two singles from this album are furthering his complaint just seemed ungrateful.

OK, sick of my complaining? How about this: ‘Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps’ is surprisingly good, even when tackled from a negative viewpoint. Sure, the concept’s a bit laboured: 1.) We’re famous and it’s great! 2.) We’re bored of being famous 3.) We’re famous and it’s crap, 4.) We’re Not Famous, 5.) see (1.). (With a few more bits stuck in), but it’s quite easy to see past this.

For a change, I decided to listen to this in the car and not analyse it, and you know what, I found myself singing along to some of the new tracks. Despite being thrown into the mainstream and collaborating with girl rappers, The Ordinary Boys have managed to keep their grit. ‘The Higher The Highs’ harks back to their ska roots, and ‘I Luv U’ shows there are still brains working in there, with lines like “It doesn’t make it any better / to just steal kind words off Phil Spector”.

Later on, ‘Shut Your Mouth’, despite starting like a bad Bond soundtrack, gets gritty and delivers some more clever lyrics like “It’s that old guilty feeling / like eating digestives / after brushing your teeth”. And I even found Nine2Five less annoying in this mix. I still don’t get the crossover, and can’t understand half of the rapped bits, but it’s another factor in the varied arrangement of the album.

All of these highlights still don’t stop “We’ve Got The Best Job Ever” from sounding like a McFly song, and “Lonely At The Top” from being a load of ungrateful piffle, but at least they keep the album interesting…

So yes, they’re whining too much and are suffering from being a bit too mainstream, but once the fame begins to wane The Ordinary Boys look as though they can go back to their roots without having to travel too far. My verdict? Surprisingly good, but not their best.

Simon Middleyard