Yesterday saw the release of the third album from Cleethorpes quartet Orphan Boy, a band very proud of their off-the-beaten-track hometown, as frontman Rob Cross muses, “people don’t give small towns credit, but places like Morecombe and Kirkcaldy have a real sense of community spirit. Singing about Grimsby and Cleethorpes is all part of that. It’s an undocumented part of the country which is as valid as anywhere else.”
The ten track offering was produced by band member Sam Carlton, and where lesser acts might suffer for this, Orphan Boy manage to use this professional standard of a DIY trick to add an intentionally rugged and raw edge to their work, touching bases with both the homemade sound and the clean cut, polished effect off the successful mainstream.
From the seaside, music box sample that opens lead single Beats Like Distant Tides to the sound of waves that close spoken word grand finale Thirtysomething Lovesick Ballad, there’s a clear notion that the band like to do things a bit differently. Take the combination of the monotonous backing in the album’s opening track that at first glance comes across as quite dull – look a little closer and you’ll find it’s fairer to compare the song to an engaging whirlwind, wrapping you into the repeated, hypnotic and melodic sound.
This mix is similarly apparent in second up, Sunken Hearts. Light, sparkly backing meets meaty riffs with a backbone in the line, “there are soldiers in our hearts / there is hunger in these eyes” creates a bridge between optimism and melancholy that teases the album throughout.
Transpennine seems to mimic Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism, if you bulked it up and added a hint of psychedelia to the biggest waves of it, and shows how the band can build up to their weight from a gentle opening. Purely for the hook and compelling instrumental – a trick Orphan Boy seem to be good at – Nelson Skyline makes it as a personal favourite off the record, though the catchy chorus and jolt in style from Money To Money creates stiff competition.
Clover provides a soaring uplift among some of the more bogged down moments whilst the hypnotic side returns in Bury The Stars. There’s an almost jazzy undertone to the instrumental of the penultimate title track, whilst the five and a half minute closer hits with brutal honesty at only a touch away from spoken word.
It’d be impossible to take one track off the record and predict how the others would sound, with a variety of genres seemingly hinted at throughout the offering. There’s no avoiding that the album is heavily compelling, though, and in the nicest possible way it’s easily comparable to quicksand. A solid 8/10.