You might well know of The Boy Least Likely To; but maybe you don’t yet know that you do. Composer Pete Hobbs and wordsmith Jof Owen, with their unique brand of child’s eye-view pop music, released their debut LP The Best Party Ever in 2005 and subsequently became delayed by problems with their record company. The duo from Wendover have been featured on adverts from Coca Cola via Apple to General Motors, and on the hit US medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, with their infectious innocence and sense of optimism seamlessly infused into songs such as Stringing Up Conkers and Be Gentle With Me.
Now they’re back, and this sense of optimism is embedded in the duo’s glazy-eyed lyrics, such as on new track Climbing Out Of Love, with lines such as “Everyone leave things behind, climbing out of love as you both begin to climb, into the sunlight of love”, and the use of sunny synths and glockenspiel. The same track tells of how there’s “nothing harder than climbing out of love”, which would happily sit beside Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know, this time with added xylophone, yet with TBLLT somehow adding that boundless sense of enthusiasm felt as a child.
These endearing memory jogs abound amongst TBLLT’s output, with lyrics reflecting an idealistic landscape and compiling something of a retrospective of childhood innocence. Take this line, from Taking Wind Mills For Giants: “I guess there can always be rainbows after it rains, I made us miserable by taking windmills from giants.”
However, whilst these youthful allusions have led to the band being labelled with the ‘twee-pop’ brush, this must not be confused with musical immaturity. New offering I Keep Falling In Love With You Again, released as a free download single on Valentine’s Day, is a particularly well-crafted pop song with multiple references, most noticeably to Eastenders, with the opening drum break, but also to Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, and maybe even The Cure, with an infectious chorus and synth riff reminiscent of Common People or even Friday, I’m In Love.
Innocence is carried further forward to My Little Heart That Remembers Everything, which opens with the lyric “My heart is my companion” and climaxes with a chorus detailing how “My heart can sing”. The lyrics remain simplistic, as does the music, but it serves its purpose as a harmless bit of feel-good time well spent. Songs such as My Little Heart call to mind Noah And The Whale’s early output, specifically the chart-topping Five Years’ Time, and to up-and-coming folk stars 5 day riot.
A cynic would criticise the lyrical content and preoccupation of The Boy Least Likely To’s simple songwriting, and their lyrics evocative of the type of loved-up themes reserved for young teenagers. But it is almost impossible not to be won over by this glass-half-full outlook. Even on a dull and wet spring morning, their charm is undeniable.