Album: The Ordinary Boys

Brassbound, B-UNIQUE
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The Independent Culture

It has been almost a year since The Ordinary Boys released their Over the Counter Culture debut, a year they've spent industriously pounding the promotional treadmill, with tours of the UK and US and no less than three trips to Japan. But the trouble with treadmills is that, no matter how hard you work, you never move forward - a situation starkly evident on Brassbound, which presents a band stuck exactly where they were a year ago, their musical worldview stretching no further than its initial mix of punk and 2-Tone. Between the title track's Jam-style punky bite, and the rollicking ska-punk apologia of "Boys Will Be Boys" ("We cheat and we lie and we fight/ We don't cry/ Well, we try") and "Don't Live Too Fast" ("Tooled up and fuelled up to our ears to leave our fears behind"), they don't seem to have left themselves room to grow. There are signs the singer/lyricist Sam Preston recognises this, referring in "A Few Home Truths" to "my secret life in the bus lane", and attacking a character "wrapped up in being new" in "Brass Bound". But the criticism in "One Step Forward", of someone "cling[ing] on to a vintage way of life", might be more fruitfully directed at their own determination to stay aesthetically and spiritually stuck in 1979. For while progress is no guarantee of successful development, without it there's no chance at all.