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At the beginning of last year, rumours began to circulate that The Ordinary Boys had been dropped by their record label, B-Unique. Although these rumours were dismissed by the band and their management, it was shortly after these rumours came about that Preston would enter into the Big Brother house. Call me a cynic, but as I see it, The Ordinary Boys probably were going to get dropped by their label, however Preston entered the Celebrity Big Brother house, therefore lifting their profile and so selling more records meaning that they never were dropped in the end. Anyway, that's neither here nor there any more as they are still with the label and came up with this as their third full length release 'How To Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps'.
Having been the subject of great media attention in the few months prior to the release of this album due to his appearance in the Big Brother house, this is Preston's ode to being in the spotlight as the album deals with life at the top, and the fickleness of fame. If you listened to the bands first two albums then you'll notice a change with this one there is still the odd spattering and nod towards The Specials-esque Ska sound of old, however a lot of the time the band are far more poppy sounding than they have ever come across as before. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing as the band seem to do this extremely well, however if you're expecting more of the same from the band then you may have to think again as this is really not what you get here. The bands new sound is more reminiscent of early Blur than what we have had in the past and although it has been done well and as a result this is a fairly decent album, it's quite hard to get used to at first as whereas in the past the bands strength has been in their rough and edgy sound, this time round the production is a lot more cleaner sounding.
The album opens nicely with the recent single 'Lonely At The Top', introducing us to the bands new sound nicely I feel. I quite like this one and although it is a far cry from the bands earlier sound, it sets the mood nicely and gives us a fair expectation of what the rest of the album is going to be like. 'The Great Big Rip Off' follows on nicely and is another catchy track that you can easily find yourself singing along to after a couple of listens. It is a track which has great pop sensibilities and the band really show their strength of character here. Other than a rather cringe worthy final cry of 'It's the great big rip off!' by Preston at the end of the record, this one works really well as a catchy pop track. Next track 'Club Chez-Moi' fails to buck the trend and is yet another strong offering from the band which is extremely catchy with a fun feel to it.
The first ugly moment we come across on this album is 'I Luv U', a track that has obviously been written about Chantelle and is really quite an embarrassing little number. He states that he's trying to avoid the use of clichés in this one, however with such a sappy love song of this sort is that really possible? In my opinion this is one to avoid. The first half of the album climaxes with the Lady Sovereign collaboration 'Nine2Five', a track that I have always loved. With the dual vocals of Preston and Lady Sovereign offering such a contrast of sounds, it really does sound great and in my opinion works extremely well. This is the last track we get before the 'Commercial Breakdown' which is a somewhat awful skit which lasts for just over a minute.
After a promising first half of the album, from here on in there is not really much to write home about as there are a number of rather bland offerings that although are not bad tracks, are really nothing particularly interesting. Although the Ska vibe of 'Shut Your Mouth' will put a smile on the face of all the Ordinary Boys die-hard's out there, even this is not enough to save the flailing second half of the album and lacks any sense of real bite that the band once had with their sound of old. 'Walking On The Faultlines' is another track that has some real promise but just never seems to get going, meaning that by about halfway through you'll already have got bored and skipped onto the next. The album does however end on somewhat of a high as we get bonus track 'Who's That Boy' which has a fast and furious feel about it. Another decent track had been a long time coming here, however we are finally provided with it as the album climaxes, but you just get the feeling that it has been too little too late.
Although not a bad album, I just feel that 'How To Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps' lacks the wow-factor that was needed from the band and although they are obviously trying to reinvent themselves, it hasn't really worked. Although the first half of the album here is extremely promising, as we progress into the second half you just get the feeling that the band can do a lot better than this. They are better than the blandness that haunts the second half of the album and I just feel that they've crammed all of the best songs into the first half without really worrying about how people would perceive the second as from 'Commercial Breakdown' onwards, with the exception of bonus track 'Who's That Boy', the album lacks any sort of strength or excitement. If you're a die hard fan of the band then by all means check this album out however for everyone else I would think twice before spending your money on this one as it is probably never going to be one of your favourites. By all means there are a good few decent tracks on display here, however the album lacks the consistency to ever go down as a classic or even to be noted as one of the stand out albums of last year. 'How To Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps' is billed by the band as the real follow-up to the first album however I just don't see where the band are coming from on this as their second album 'Brassbound' is just as good an album as this if not better.
Release Date: 23rd October 2006
Originally posted by me on my website Alt-UK.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Introducing The Brand
2 Lonely At The Top
3 Great Big Rip Off
4 Club Chez Moi
5 I Luv U
6 Nine2five - The Ordinary Boys, Lady Sovereign
7 Commercial Breakdown
8 Ballad Of An Unrequited Self-Love Affair
9 The Higher The Highs
10 Shut Your Mouth
11 We've Got The Best Job Ever
12 Walking On The Faultlines (The Ultimate Step)
13 Thank You And Goodnight
14 Who's That Boy?
15 Boys Will Be Boys