Review: The Orwells – ‘Disgraceland’

orwellsWhat comes next is not subtle. There is no light touch.

Disgraceland‘ simply blows the doors off and walks away laughing. The Orwells‘ new album is equally as subversive as it is impressive. Relentlessly, powerfully and brutally bringing a heady mixture of youthful energy and filthy pop-rock to the table. This is music at its most excitingly brief.

Opening with the excellent recent single ‘Southern Comfort‘, simply a concise slice of brilliance, it is impossible not to be taken in by their instant appeal. They make music reminiscent of everything that is exciting in rock. Drawing from a wide range of sources – yet never anything too obvious – the music, like their influences, has that wonderful familiarity which great tunes often have; certain you have heard the song before, but can never quite place it. It is just infectious and fascinating.

Managing to successfully mix the subversive pop of classic punk, the angry grime of British indie-rock and the youthful exuberant sheen of 70’s power pop, ‘Disgraceland’ is eleven separate reasons to love this band. ‘Righteous Ones‘ is unstoppable, while ‘Dirty Sheets‘ has the same off-kilter menacing brilliance of The Hiss at their ‘Clever Kicks‘ level of electrifying, but with just enough pop-sass to make it a real contender.

But then any of the tracks here are conceivably singles, one after the next they just keep banging them out. ‘Gotta Get Down‘ is Pixies-esque pop that has been put through The Orwells’ very own blender, and ‘Who Needs You?‘ has that warm sleazy feeling of the wonderfully pure filth put out by Louis XIV. Like a seaside postcard, it is smutty and fun in a oddly charming way.

And all of these catchy, guttural and filthy instincts culminate in the absolutely sublime ‘Always N’ Forever‘. The track is the confluence of a seemingly truly passionate love for British alternative music. It is The Cribs in spades. It is also no pastiche or joke, this is authentic and skilled.

The intensity of The Orwells sound and the breakneck pace of the record cannot fail to please. The music demands attention, much like their debut record ‘Remember When‘. Unlike that record, however, it is infused with a lecherous pop sensibility that makes this a much more compulsive listen. The energetic punkiness of their debut has been replaced by a plethora of influences, and a sensation of joy.

This is what a rock record should be; succinct and impressive. The songs never linger, but they also never leaves a bad taste. Cake has been had and very much eaten, and the portions keep coming. The sound is dirty and enticing, the pace is raw and bruising, the balls are firmly nailed to the wall.

This, then, really is not subtle, and its touch is so far from light. But subtlety and light touches will only get you so far.

‘Disgraceland’ goes all the way.

(Dylan Llewellyn-Nunes)


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