Us music writers often give artists a hard time; for some of us, it’s difficult to understand why certain artists do so well, when to us it’s completely unjustified. Fortunately, there’s always some phenomenon that comes along and helps explain why a particular record induces the record buying public to part with their hard earned moolah. A few years ago, there was this lovely phenomenon called the ‘£50 bloke’ who according to the Guardian, went into Borders with a spare £50 and bought whatever was cool that week, regardless of whether the content was any good. We’d like to say this is still the case, but we’re pretty sure it’s not.
These days people appear to have less disposable income to play about with; it might be that mortgage rates are higher; it might be that they’re going to university to better themselves; it might be that they’re clichéd and quit decent jobs in publishing to pursue musical interests; it may even be that they do not feel that there is decent enough music out there to pull on the purse strings. For whatever reason, people are downloading more these days (perhaps not even legally) and if they are buying music, they are demanding rock bottom prices for it by buying dirt cheap cds on sale in Asda or Tesco. Whatever glistening font you scribe this in, music is becoming something that either a small group of monolithic supermarkets are enjoying the sales of or something that people are refusing to buy, or finding other ways of listening to. The way we consume music has been changing for a while: Amazon recommendations, ebay- the electronic charity shop, and streamers haven myspace are all contributing to this change.
But, take a step back. Walk the same streets that you did when you were fourteen or fifteen, wanting to be included in a scene, to be a part of something that made you different, interesting, ‘anything but ordinary’ (to quote Ms Lavigne). In the days when you wanted to be a pop star and sung into your hairbrush, shower head, deodorant can, whatever. Back when you thought that life was so exciting, and the media was the most interesting and multi-faceted thing in the entire world, and you wanted to be a part of it.
We’ve met Scouting for Girls. They’re a nice bunch of lads. Not out to offend anyone. They so desperately want to be pop stars that they probably queued in the X factor auditions. They dream of playing a big stage at Glastonbury, of hearing people they don’t know sing along to their songs, to share in the same dreams as them, that pop music is this amazing thing that brings people with nothing else in common, together at ‘Party in the Park’. They’re so sweet; they’re dripping in honeyed naivety, much like this debut.
Everyone in indie world has given these popsters’ debut a good kicking, ‘til they’re bruised and battered and begging for mercy. Is it justified?
‘She’s so lovely’ is a sugar coated Kooks inspired shoddy piece of manufactured pop (apart from the fact that these boys have been together since birth) but you have to at least give the album a few plays before writing it off into the bargain bin at Woolies, right? ‘It’s not about you’ is a corker of a pop tune, a break up song of sorts with the protagonist (presumably vocalist and head honcho Roy Stride) being told for the numpteenth time that ‘It’s not about you love, you’re great innit; it’s me’. As much as you might want to like this debut, songs like ‘I keep on Walking’, ‘The Airplane Song’, ‘Elvis Aint Dead’ and ‘James Bond’ push us into ‘Feeling’ territory, a mass manufactured machine that drums out pointless effigies in the form of ‘Rosé’. Stride does know how to play the piano, as people do when they’ve taken grade exams. It is unfortunately, pop for pop’s sake. If you’re looking for depth and meaning you won’t find it here but chances are, if you’ve bought anything by McFly that’s not your prerogative anyway.
There is an audience for this, and it is those manicured hands that plunge into the deep dark depths of Asda’s/Tesco’s/Woolies’ (delete as applicable) bargain bin whilst talking to their mum on their mobile, who love going to Party in the Park/T4 in the park/beach (again, delete as applicable). This sugary debut will fit snugly next to the Pick and Mix, that’s granting you don’t puke from the overdose of E numbers.