Day One

Having no preconceptions about Day One except that their PR labels them as “Britain’s favourite urban storytellers” (I’ve never even heard of them), I was expecting an album a little like The Hours’ “Narcissus Road” or anything by Turin Brakes. Track One “Bad Before Good” showed some promise of this. Sure it’s a little repetitive and there was no real ‘story’ as such, but this, I thought, was just a warm up.

So when the second track “Cosmopolita” started, sounding like Fun Loving Criminals doing a bad rap/disco crossover, I knew something was awry. Sure, there’s a story, but there’s also some seriously dodgy rhyming going on. ‘Nigerian’/’Siberian’ – need I say more? The idea of the track is fair enough, but I think making up a word for the title is taking it a little too far…

“Feet Firmly On The Ground” is a tale of how, despite money and fame, the narrator is still ‘real’. I smell “Jenny From The Block”, only written by people who haven’t left the ground anyway. “The Little Things”, though horribly repetitive, is at least catchy, and is kind of subtle and clear, but we’re talking comparisons here. “Now I’m A Little Older” has a strange backing sound that I’m sure they’ve sampled from War Of The Worlds. Maybe they have, but it’s not obvious enough to be a clever motif. Shame.

One of the big selling points of this album is that Day One are joined by Will.I.Am (from Black Eyed Peas) on a track. Now, this is the only track on the album with a named guest, so you’d imagine it would be a standout that makes the most of said guest’s voice and style. Why then, make that track (Give It To Me) a continuation of the previous one (Money), but with a small (and I mean seriously minimal) amount of input from the guest? Maybe it sounds better as a single, but in the scope of the album, it just feels like one big song dragging on….

“Travelcard Traveller” finally tells a decent tale. It’s still not great, but after listening to the averageness of the album so far, it’s a high point. This continues with “Probably Art”. As the title suggests, it’s a bit ambiguous, but it sounds a bit more mainstream indie, like an Athlete B-Side. Although it does have the words ‘postmodern’ and ‘constructive criticism’ appear in the first minute. Ironically, the story here is about someone trying to find an opinion about some piece of artwork. I couldn’t help but see myself in the shoes of the narrator: “What is it? It’s probably art”.

There’s a desire here to explore the existential and the meaning of life, but the medium just isn’t right. Buried within these mediocre offerings are some potent lines, but they are often overstated, like the title of track 11, “Who Owns The Rain?”. By this point, I found myself thinking “Who cares?”

And so we come to the final track, “Time To Go”. In another ironic twist, it’s actually one of the best tracks on “Probably Art”. It’s not over-thought and the music’s not too complicated. Maybe the way to crack this album is to listen to it in reverse order. That way, the Will.I.Am track will come before its twin sister and the last track will be slightly irritating, but it won’t matter as it’s the end of the album.

Job done. Stick it in iTunes, reorder it with 12 as the first track and turn the volume down as you reach the halfway point. What is it? It’s probably in the wrong order.

Simon Middleyard