Step one: “You gotta be in it to win it”. It’s thisapproach that’s got Samuel Preston and his gangof four further up the musical ladder than they mighthave expected – a sad reflection of acelebrity-obsessed climate for sure, but full marks tohim for playing the game and coming out on top withoutlosing credibility – yet.
Lonely At The Top, with the step one catchphrase,is an appropriate place to start. It’s not Prestonhaving a celebrity tantrum, more a catchy,observational pop song with a memorable hook. As isNine2five, a similar blueprint with its breezyacceptance of hard work boosted by LadySovereign‘s cameo.
Preston’s lyrics on this album make the point ofmusing on how his life has changed over the past year,but at no point does he lapse into self pity. We’veGot The Best Job Ever refutes that emphatically, andwhile Preston’s throat aches and ears are ringing,he’s quick to say he’s sure he doesn’t deserve hislot.
Crucially, the songs and their lyrics are goodenough to justify the hype. The singles are theobvious start points, but punchy songs like The GreatBig Rip Off, a pertinent set of observations ontoday’s society trends, quickly win the listener over.Dance With Me Tonight, with raucous sax and giddybluster, is a great going out song.
It’s easy to imagine Preston serenading Chantellewith I Luv You, but it’s far from soppy – a touch ofmusic hall and Phil Spector reverberation (hegets a name check too) but it’s nicely done, slightlywhimsical in turn.
There’s a strong sense of Englishness about TheOrdinary Boys, manifested in their influences. ButPreston’s voice makes all the difference – well spokenbut with a rounded lilt.
We shouldn’t forget the other three Boys of course,and though it sounds like stating the obvious,William J Brown’s guitar work is sharplydelivered, while James Gregory enjoys the oddflirtation with a dubby bass line. SimonGoldring, meanwhile, is the rhythmic lynchpin, thespring in The Ordinary Boys’ step.
The only spoiling factor is the record company’sinclusion of Boys Will Be Boys as a bonus track. It’s adubious tactic at best – this album stands on its own two feet without that sortof meddling, and confirms the boys as players in thebig league.