They do say familiarity breeds contempt. In the midst of the recent eighties revival, where bands magpie-picked some melodic angst (The Killers) sharp spiky edge (Razorlight) urchin chic (Libertines) from the once derided carcass of all things ’80s-schooled, there will always be the latecomers proferring excuses of missed buses and dogs eating homework – The Others are that band.
Limping along, on the second-rate, shadow-boxing, ‘mates-with-The-Libertines’ tag, London’s The Others bare their grubby teeth on these angsty shoutalongs lacking any of the formers wit and way with a tune. True they do possess their own resident pitbull in the form of Dominic Masters who couldn’t keep it more real if he tried. He can’t sing? So what, turn him up and make a feature out of it! The lyrics are a bit ropey? They’re authentic, and speak to the real kids! The band are frankly a bit pub-punk? This is the sound of raw agression!
Things start promisingly enough with Lackey‘s strut and bluster sounding like a glue and tea-drenched version of The Strokes. Unschooled vocals fighting over stumbling music could be the sound of a new teen revolution or lame musicianship. The only vestige of a tune looms out of William which brings a sunshine riff not dissimilar to New Order over a tale of childhood friendship. Alas, after these two seemingly incendiary attempts The Others appear to burn themselves out, mistaking repetition of mindless phrases as being enigmatic, when it merely seems like a drought of ideas.
It’s a shame because things look initially promising. A lead singer who can’t apparently sing, but has attitude by the bucket load. (See Johnny Rotten, Liam Gallagher, Robert Smith, Bernard Sumner etc) Lame lyrics that would be rejected by even the most illiterate six-form schoolkid. (See most of the forementioned). The bulk of tracks here limp along on an unremarkable repeated guitar riff, sprightly basslines bouncing along in demented pogo-lines and drumming that would make Animal from The Muppets blush.
Protest punk can sound forced and trite at the best of times, and despite its lurking presence here, it is rather charming in its na�ve simplicity and all the more better for not hearing for a long time. Masters vapid take on Mark E. Smith‘s knack for repetition and phrasing, but what he re-bleats was never worth hearing the first time it passed his lips.
Verbal spazz-outs over tune-free strop-alongs do not good tunes make. If there’s supposed to be a voice of dissent and protest hidden in these songs (This Is For The Poor – oh really? How pray do they afford it, when ‘the man’ has taken all their dough, man) then it’s masked by being sung by a tone-deaf ‘street-idiot’ backed by his band of ‘pub-rock’ ‘punk-revolutionaires’…etc. Does the world really need a song about a player for QPR 1974 Stan Bowles?
To liken The Others to spirit of punk is partly true, only in the respects of it being a) a manufactured idea and b) a London-centric myth. Masters does bear a barking resemblance to that other cockney soundbiter Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69) and we should all remember how woefully club-footed they sounded next to the real deal of The Clash and their ilk.
So before we go running blind down the pissy alley of London media hacks, let the music do the talking, and if it’s as autistically monosyllabic as this I’ll keep a wide berth from the knowingly ramshackle amateurisms of these ’emperor’s new clothes’.