The problem with 'Ten Steps' is that it, like Preston, has lost its edge now that it's become about the celebrity, rather than the music...
Alex Hibbert

14:03 24th October 2006

And so beckons the return of The Ordinary Boys, with an album set to prove Preston and co. (who are the others again?) as either musicians with celebrity or celebrities with music to the critics and fans, and demonstrate to a seemingly clueless public whether they ever were any good or not.

The Ordinary Boys journey so far has been far from it, debuting with an album that raised praise from the most unlikely of sources in a certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey, (A.K.A, err... Morrissey), who usually bottles up all the enjoyment he has for Sunday afternoons in front of the corrie omnibus. Unfortunately, they fell to the dreaded 'difficult' second album curse in 'Brassbound', a record displaying none of the punk sensibility of 'Week in, Week out' or the stick of rock up yer arse that was 'Seaside' from their debut, and ended up as an album far too ambitious and bland to stop them becoming labelled as anything other than 'Ordinary'. Nice.

And then he went and spoilt it all by doing something stupid like dumping his French girlfriend, selling himself to the media whore that is C.B.B (you know the acronym!) and marrying the eventual winner, who showed herself to be, albeit a very sweet one, a total wannabe. Now this is where Preston and his bunch of Fred Perry men stand, and you get the feeling that when all the Hello and O.K magazines have being destroyed with the melting of the polar ice caps, this is the album that, like cockroaches, can survive. Or can it?

Immediately upon listening to 'Ten Steps' it becomes clear that the Boys have decided to play down the Brighton Beach nostalgia that shaped earlier albums. Though it does rear its pork pie hatted head on 'Nine2Five' or the annoyingly reissued 'Boys Will be Boys', there seems to be a conscientious choice to make an album that is more commercially accessible, done with the removal of low-key production and any sign of brass, replaced by Trevor Horn like Synths and polished till they sparkle Keyboards. Unfortunately it seems like a genre that doesn't always suit the lads because sometimes it works, such as in the new uber-pop single 'Lonely at the Top', managing to be about as glossy as Shaun Ryder's new smile, or 'The Higher the Highs' which manages to get away with repeating the title to make a chorus by being utterly danceable.

The same of which can't be said for 'We've Got the Best Job Ever' (well, duh..) or 'The Great Big Rip Off', which is a bit too much like Ronseal for its own good. As well as the musings on celebrity there are moments of introspection, token ballad 'I Luv U' (presumably spelt by Chantelle) acts as nothing other than 'token ballad', whilst the tinkering of instrumentals such as closer 'Thank you and Goodnight' seem to be just that, tinkering that seems half finished and, on an album that tries to make a poignant comment on celebrity life, kind of pointless. 

So as an album that Preston has said he has wanted to make all his life, and presumably will want to be buried with him etc. etc. The problem with 'Ten Steps' is that it, like Preston, has lost its edge now that it's become about the celebrity, rather than the music. The energy and dissent of youthful angst has become irony and cynicism, something especially harder to take from someone that's clearly used the celebrity world to their advantage. There are some reasons to be excited, and something tells us it won't be the last we'll hear from The Ordinary Boys.

More about: