So I have this friend. His name is also Alan, and that doesn’t pose as many problems as you’d think. Alan likes indie music. But the indie music Alan likes is very different to the indie music I used to like and that’s because I am old and indie music does not age like the rest of us.
Alan likes The Enemy. He likes The Twang. He likes The Ordinary Boys. Lots of bands with The at the beginning of their name, you know? He goes to their shows and gets drunk and sings along with their songs and sometimes he’ll even wear a band shirt. Good bloke, is Alan.
Alan would like Orphan Boy. They play exactly the kind of music he digs, with that slight jangle and the emotive vocals, and a pervading spirit of boys together. Orphan Boy are from Cleethorpes, and that’s somehow perfect, because what is this music about if not escaping from those tiny, shitty towns where nothing happens, even for just the three minutes a song lasts for.
Coastal Tones is Orphan Boy’s third album. Their first two fell into that eternal trap of being critically-acclaimed but not selling 1D numbers. Shit, I bet they didn’t even sell 0.000001D numbers. But that’s not the point. No-one’s in this game for the money, are they? No, they’re in it to send out a cry from the disadvantaged, the local, the forgotten.
This is about dead-end jobs and the seaside in winter. It’s about amusement arcades and girls you’ll never speak to. It’s about finally leaving your small town only to find yourself back there again and maybe realising that everywhere’s the same anyway. Orphan Boy call their music “council pop”, and it’s a good name. It evokes the early 1980s, the sound of the suburbs, and since the government are intent on taking us back to the dark days of Thatcherism, we may as well have the music to match.
Coastal Tones is not a masterpiece. It won’t win the Mercury Music Prize and won’t win five-star reviews on those cool blogs you read. It’s a solid album full of the kind of songs people like Alan like. And there are Alans everywhere.
Coastal Tones is out on May 25th on Concrete Recordings.