Orphan Boy: Coastal Tones

review orphan x1 cong

Sometimes our favourite albums are not the most innovative, boundary-pushing or adventurous of the year but just routinely pleasant and done well.
Such is the case with Orphan Boy, whose new album (their third we think) is not exactly ground breaking but is enjoyable. It’s a particularly summery album, not surprising since they hail from the east coast of England, where the sun always shines.
The easiest comparison is with The Enemy, a kind of laddish rock with lyrics about life on the council estate (or at least housing association development in these modern times). But the tunes are all upbeat and chirpy, and flow as smoothly as the incoming tide on a sunny day. The vocals are equally smooth. It’s the kind of music you want playing on the radio as you drive along a coastal road with the car’s roof down on a sunny day. It even opens with the sound of an ice cream van.
First track Beats Like Distant Tide — obviously they’re not worried about pushing the seaside theme — is both up-tempo thanks to the fast hi-hats and off-beat snare and gentle, and with slower vocals.
Sunken Hearts is more poppy, as is the slower early standout, Transpennine, all about catching the single carriage train across the aforementioned range of hills and back again, admiring the industrial landscape while so doing. Also catchy is On A Nelson Skyline, about the Lancs town. (We’ve got no lyrics but their website singles out lines such as “chemical plants hang like ghosts”, lonely spinsters find their “spirit wanes in the twilight hours” and the dole is just days spent “watching Zulu and just burning matches by the window”).
We remember Orphan Boy’s last album, from 2010 — but only for the cover art. We can’t remember the music at all. The band actually split in 2011 because they weren’t going anywhere but reformed and this is the result. Perhaps the fact that they’re now accepting that fame and fortune might simply overlook them has removed the pressure and given this album its laidback feel and light touch. Fans of The Enemy and the Arctic Monkeys should give this a whirl: try From The Provinces or the poppier Bury Your Stars.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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