Album Reviews

One Night Only – Started A Fire

(Mercury) UK release date: 11 February 2008

Five Yorkshire teenagers from Helmsley get together and form a band. That’s not much to be excited about, but One Night Only’s debut album manages to cultivate a lively, unpretentious, genuinely fun album full of modern twists on that old boy meets girl chestnut.

George Craig, Mark Hayton, Daniel Parkin, Sam Ford and Jack Sails started playing Blink 182 covers but thankfully they have reached out and away from that to their own endeavours. The album is a softer, poppier indie offering that sticks to what it knows and it does it very well.

Opening track Just For Tonight is an anthemic Killers-esque tune that should be penciled in for prime-time sitcom soundtracks. It’s the second single to be released from the album and provides a great introduction to the winning music, with a fantastic feel-good factor.

Another highlight, Stay At Home, feels instantly summery. The fear of being forgotten and wanting to make everybody smile are the major gripes. The words “I wanted to go out and waste my time in the sunshine”, with the thumping great instrumental performance, should make this part of the soundtrack of summer festivals.

Often the jubilant sound does not reach an outstanding crescendo. Instead it sounds a little restrained and can consequently be a little underwhelming when each track starts so well. Also, Craig’s voice sometimes sounds sluggish and doesn’t always equal the vivacity of the music. His delivery seems caught half a nonchalant step behind the music. The near chronic softness of the vocal performance is one of the few things that expose the youth of the album.

Despite that, the boys have incorporated rock ‘n’ roll, skiffle, ska and rockabilly quirks to their sound. The snappy clapping, dramatic drum intros, impressive guitar solos, even pops of trombone add a certain clumsy charm to Sweet Sugar’s sentimental story. The reassuringly tingling melody of It’s All Right, a jangling song about a nervous boy and a confident girl, is supported by dreamy lyrics and literal sonic landscaping. “The sky has painted the floor, the moment’s here, the feelings right” precedes thunder effects that fold you further into the heart of the song rather than alienating you from the fantasy.

Having said that the lyrics are generally simple and narrative without being repetitive. Memorable and easy to sing along is positive, but there is also something missing. Cynicism is thin on the ground and the bite of the band’s punk heritage is definitely a sad omission. The moody aggression of One Last Chance is a predictable moan and probably the weakest song on the album. Clocking in at nearly six minutes, half the song is instrumental, the ambient and serenely toned ending puzzling, the function and origin of this pleasant insert unclear.

Any assertion on setting One Night Only’s album apart is dubious. The sheer competency, dashes of eccentricity, touches of crossed genres and intelligent lyrics disguise a little lack of range. It is an inoffensive, organic, indie proposition, full of youthful jollity that could strike a more definite and different note – yet there is plenty of time for them to grow.

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More on One Night Only
One Night Only @ QMU, Glasgow
One Night Only – Started A Fire