The Ordinary Boys

How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps

(Polydor; 2006)

By Alan Baban | 13 January 2008

The brouhaha subsides: I wanted to rip these motherfuckers a new one; hell, I was even going to churn out the moronic 0% because, well, fuck these motherfuckers. The Ordinary Boys are venial and deluded, a gimmicked-out, manufactured artifice, spun into stinking cod (sic) webs of apoptotic avarice. As draft one had it -- “Indulgent codified reggae rock, a sort of Portaloo Calling as seen through the eyes of a myopic Costello on valium.”

What can I say? I’d like to think I was in the fasting state. I would’ve spiralled down this, erm, downward spiral had not Clay, associate editor extraordinaire, hitched one over the interweb fence to pay me a visit from the fish market, balking sturgeon in hand to knock some sense into this infantile skull. And that’s when I realised -- enough with the reprobate’s resume -- even bad bands need to be given a break.

Why? Because the phrase ‘bad band’, and the resulting runaway train of parlance critics invariably feel the need to lay thick, comes almost too trippingly to the tongue, too readily to the lips. It’s no lie that this certain species of white whale of deleterious rock acts is nothing more than a bloated workhorse. Is there not a critic who has ridden that horse, sweating out onto his lapels at every suckered brandishing of the critical whip? The powerless band vying for discerning respectability and the dog of a writer, who, with even a whiff of the scent, will raise all kinds of verbiage hell in an eager bid to be noticed, a head full of dazed connections and delusions, “Didn’t T.S. Eliot shit on Percy Shelley?” And the writer will tear off chunks, bite down and chew, until only the ribs and skin of his prey, and the shadow or his virtuosity, remains. Fuck that shit.

I have nothing against The Ordinary Boys. I have no need to harness them for the highroad. It’s not like their Metacritic ranking needs to be dumped down, this isn’t some doohickey band from Barcelona holding a love-in with the bloggers. This is a bad band, straight down the line, certainly nothing more, probably nothing less. And, strangely, the more I’ve come to accept that, the more I’ve been able to see the certain merits this latest record of theirs holds.

For those immune to reality TV: Preston is the surname of the lead singer of the Ordinary Boys. This past spring, it was none other than Preston who gatecrashed the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, living it up with Michael Barrymore and some other decerebrated frogs. His aim was to dissolve the boundaries between alternative and mainstream, which would be all well and good if the Ordinary Boys were either of the two. Alas, it wasn’t the music or the cosmic vision that landed Preston into the headlines but instead his romancing of contestant Chantelle Houghton, stuffed with cuddles, cream and crumpets. This was, sadly and inevitably, regarded as a “fairytale romance.”

More than anything, it’s this experience of being thrust into the headlights that innervates How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps. Song titles like “The Higher the Highs” beat the brains out of the very dead horse of shallow couture, but, for all its regurgitated melodic motifs, one feels a lingering interest to see how many permutations of the same theme the group can muster before jumping into a knotty “interval” track. Fifteen, it turns out. Fifteen takes on chugging bass lines, choppy guitars and a horrendously sterilised production job that makes the group sound as if on a saline drip in some toilet town.

So flush it down. Don’t bother -- ignore it. Haters not needed. I’m sure the Ordinary Boys already have enough work attempting to scoot on the same terrain as the sharper, multifarious Franz clones littering the nu-charts. How to Get Everything is the void spawned by a cultural vacuum, aiming seemingly for nothing more than to collect dust in the greater, enveloping nothingness of celebrity muzak.