Initially ignored on its original 2005 release, Brighton-based mod revivalists the Ordinary Boys' second album Brassbound found a new lease of life a year later thanks to frontman Sam Preston's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. His subsequent tabloid-friendly relationship and endless glossy magazine covers may have sometimes overshadowed the band's actual music, but their follow-up to Over the Counter Culture showed that there was substance to their style. Eschewing the Paul Weller influences of its predecessor, Brassbound is instead more occupied with the Two-Tone ska and lover's rock reggae sound that producer Stephen Street previously embraced in his early '80s outfit BIM. It's a subtle reinvention which they pull off superbly on lead single "Boys Will Be Boys," a toweringly energetic, chest-beating anthem featuring a chilled-out breakdown from the English Beat's Ranking Roger, which deservedly occupied the upper reaches of the charts following their newfound reality show-inspired fame. Following their previous album's rather preemptive cover version of the Specials' "Little Bitch," the sole contribution from outside the band the second time around is a little more obscure, with a rendition of little-known '60s Birmingham reggae outfit the Locomotives' "Rudi's in Love" adding a further touch of authenticity to proceedings. Elsewhere, Preston's uncanny vocal resemblance to idol Morrissey helps the jangling-guitar pop of "Few Home Truths" sound like a lost early Smiths' classic; "Skull and Bones," a scathing attack on conspiracy theorists, echoes the new wave post-punk of Elvis Costello, and "On an Island" is a beguiling fusion of calypso rhythms, disco guitars, and Brit-pop which sounds like Kaiser Chiefs covering the Jackson 5. Unabashedly reveling in its influences, Brassbound inevitably succumbs to derivativeness, particularly on the Clash-like riffs of "Life Will Be the Death of Me" and the Madness pastiche "Don't Live Too Fast." But while its heavily retro leanings are unlikely to win any awards for originality, it's a welcome diversion from an indie scene flooded with ten-for-a-penny formulaic guitar bands.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien