Fresh from a skirmish with touring partners Arctic Monkeys, at whom accusations of being ‘routine’ were levelled by this LA troupe, The Orwells release their very own slice of perfunctory rock’n’roll with Disgraceland – an aptly titled collection of songs that probably would have Elvis turning in his grave.
The moment opener Southern Comfort makes its old-school Ramones-lite entrance, we’re transported to a wedding reception wherein the hired band are trying to rock it like it was ‘back then’. Quite where back then was it’s hard to say, but one imagines The Orwells’ tourbus is a DeLorean stuck in reverse. Not only is the music of hackneyed retrospection – without an ounce of respect from whence it came – the lyrics border on shitheaded. “Take my body ’til the morning, now I’m leaving without warning” go the testicular words of Dirty Sheets, which seems to rhapsodise about shagging groupies. Reeking of Neanderthal sexual politics, this song virtually clubs you round the head and drags you into a cave. Presumably with a rider.
Elsewhere, the guitar wankery of Let It Burn is a paint-(Strokes)-by-numbers jingle-jangle ditty containing the line: “How many times do I got to tell you?” to which one can only answer: until you done got a grip on that there English language, doofus.
It’s easy to see why this band are called The Orwells – they seem to be trapped in 1984, besieged by the Thought Police (or The Sting as they’re later known) and forever caught in the mod-revivalist scene, all the while insisting they don’t want to be the same as anybody else (‘That’s why they’re mods, see?’), completely oblivious to the irony. It amazes this reviewer how such a generic band can level accusations at the Arctic Monkeys about being routine; this album is so tainted with cliché it makes déjà vu seem like a new experience.
With Disgraceland, The Orwells have upped the ante on contrivance. The title of the album, at least, is quite apt.
*This review is published in BrumNotes magazine, June 2014