The Zodiac, Oxford
15th October 2004
Last minute replacements in support tonight are Dive Dive, who seem to baffle the Ordinary Army already amassed at the front. Currently promoting the single release Good Show and preparing for their debut album release in the new year, the Oxford natives immediately look comfortable in their skin – they have a definite presence, a distinctive melodic rock-punk sound and give the impression of “going somewhere”, albeit probably more critically than commercially. The angst of Jamie Stuart’s vocals complements some lovely guitar flourishes over sparse beats, and the whole thing descends into prog-type ramblings. On the basis of this performance, any acclaim is deserved.
The Ordinary Boys start with the early single Maybe Someday, whose lyrics “Waiting for some inspiration/But lack the human interaction” introduce their raison d’etre – promoting the cause of pissed-off, disaffected British youth. The first comparison has to be Morrissey; although much faster and upbeat musically, lead singer Preston’s vocals are a good imitation, which must be deliberate (they’re named after an early Morrissey album track, after all). However, they lack the lyrical articulation and eloquence of The Smiths frontman, or that of The Jam and The Clash – two other acts they seem to be imitating – for that matter.
Tracks like The List Goes On, radio fodder Week In Week Out and Weekend Revolution are poppy and punchy, yet err on the jangly side of “indie”. They play a fair number of tracks not on their Stephen Street-produced debut album Over The Counter Culture, but it’s hard to see how they can develop their sound; maybe they just need a big hit, or cult status. With their current output, neither of these seem very likely, though recent single Seaside (with its anthemic cry of “not gonna wait, gonna wait for the weekend”) is easily their best song tonight, even if it does lack the recording’s distinctive trumpets.
Preston mentions that they’re touring Japan after their current UK jaunt finishes; the Worthing boys are apparently huge there, and you can see how their very British pop-yet-indie sound and attitude is attractive. Why them – and not any other of the many similar young British bands around – is probably just down to marketing. Their familiar “modern life is rubbish” aura makes it easy to understand how today’s generation of teenagers could relate to them – too young for The Smiths, but needing lyrics they can identify with and accessible music that’s still alternative.
Tuneful as it all is, I can’t see how The Ordinary Boys add anything to the current music scene. I leave feeling that they lack something, though I’m not quite sure what; it can’t be originality, because sometimes quite unoriginal bands are much loved and very successful (Oasis etc). Even though they pack 15 songs into an hour, and don’t stick closely to one sound (their forays into ska – like on their cover of The Specials’ Little Bitch – work quite well), they don’t quite hit the mark. There’s a fine line between being the next big thing and the current unfashionable whipping boys. The Ordinary Boys could manage both quite easily.
From Nightshift, November 2004