The outer southern suburbs of London have produced far more than their fair share of iconic music figures. Think David Bowie or Siouxie Sioux. Kirsty MacColl or… Billy Idol. Do Me Bad Things, nine colourful people from monochrome Croydon – a place also responsible variously for Kate Moss and David Lean – have no intention of joining them. For this collective, see, it’s all about having fun.
Fans of labelmates The Darkness might already have witnessed DMBT supporting Justin Hawkins’ spandex sporting troupe at arenas. But “the astonishing blues/ rock/ soul/ metal/ everything/ anything nine-piece” apparently “didn’t even want to be a band,” according to guitarist and songwriter Alex Lewis. Odd then to record ten tracks and shove ’em out on a major label. And despite this, debut album Yes! falls some way short of iconic.
Certainly they do something for (almost) everyone. From the Skunk Anansie-like Off The Hook (one of their vocalists is clearly a Skin devotee) through the offbeat bombast of Suburban Flame, DMBT seem pitched somewhere between Queen tribute band wannabes and apprentices of Led Zeppelin.
As just about the entire band are credited with vocals, there’s plenty of opportunity for Polyphonic Spree-size choruses and much harmonising – and as a result Time For Deliverance is an earcatching opener.
Elsewhere, the band seem to tire of musical phrases, jumping around so much that listening to each song becomes something of a memory test. The Song Rides could be a construct of the leftover bits from would-be songs. And there’s plenty of space left for guitar solo wank-outs. It is not easy listening – What’s Hideous, indeed.
What DMBT are not is Croydon’s answer to Scissor Sisters, even if they’d like to be. They don’t trouble the same league, despite decidedly Shears-esque vocals on Liv Ullman On Drums. The songwriting jumps about too much to be conclusively catchy. Recent single What’s Hideous is a case in point – it sounds like two, or even three, songs cut and pasted together. And there are just not enough hooks to make any of it memorable. The same is true for the bulk of the record.
But they can write music when they want to. Closing track Hold On brings on memories of those big balladeer bands of the early Eighties – Chicago for one – to mind.
Any shortcomings are not for want of trying something different at least. DMBT dress up, camp it up, say daft things and, especially with Off The Hook and Hold On, suggest they could develop into middleweights given focus and intent. Presently though, however much fun they might be live, they have neither on this recording.