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Orphan Boy – Passion, Pain & Loyalty

Orphan Boy, Passion, Pain & Loyalty

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

COULD Orphan Boy be the new James? Listening to their debut LP, Passion, Pain & Loyalty they would seem to possess the same epic sound, far-reaching vocals and quality.

A rock/pop trio that formed in Cleethorpes in February 2005, Orphan Boy have previously put out an album called Shop Local in 2008 under the guise of Two-Chord Council Pop… and they’ve also played Glastonbury four times (twice under an alias).

Passion, Pain & Loyalty marks their most commercial offering yet, though, eschewing the post-punk direction and experimental driving force behind Shop Local (upon which choruses were forbidden) in favour of a more melodic, more musical and more introspective direction.

The change in emphasis would appear to have done them good. From opening salvo Letter For Annie to moody closer A180 Song, they generally impress.

The James comparison is almost immediate, too. Former single Popsong unfolds with the sort of organ backdrop that bears comparison to Come Home, while the vocals are as emphatic as Tim Booth’s at times, albeit with a punk edge.

The chorus, meanwhile, is tailor-made for singing along with in live form, thanks to its refrain of “I sold my only pop song to the lads from EMI”.

Untitled #9, meanwhile, drops in a “woohoo” sound not unlike Sound, which is equally enriching to the track.

That said, James comparisons aren’t the only ones that can be made. And there’s certainly much, much more to Orphan Boy’s make-up than easy name-dropping.
Harbour Lights contains a tremendous upbeat energy and sense of melody, including some of the best guitar riffing on the LP, while Some Frontier is a robust, percussion heavy, punk-pop offering that’s every bit as easy to want to sing along to, especially given its anti-war sentiments.

The piano-led 1989 succeeds in showcasing the more sensitive side to their song-writing early on and is nicely composed, while the emphasis placed on the organs of The Promise actually reminded this listener of a retro Inspiral Carpets vibe.

A180 Song, meanwhile, ends things on a brilliantly moody note… the atmospheric opening giving rise to a really tremendous melancholy offering that, if anything, echoes The Cure in their heyday (especially in terms of background drumming and guitar work).

Commenting on their hopes for the LP, Orphan Boy have stated: “Passion, Pain & Loyalty was written for all the people who listen to records alone in their bedrooms and stare out of the windows late into the night.

“It’s still got the energy and imagination of the first record, but the music is bigger this time. It’s sharper, deeper and more accomplished. We like to think that it could become one of the last great rock ‘n’ roll records. Which, for three scruffs from Grimsby, would be pretty good going. But even if no one buys it, this record will always be a success to us, because our aim was to make a great album, and that’s what we did.”

Well, it may not quite reach the heights of ‘the last great rock ‘n’ roll records’, but it puts the band well on their way to possibly achieving that aim. It’s a damn fine listen.

Download picks: A180 Song, Popsong, Harbour Lights, Some Frontier, 1989, Untitled #9

Track listing:

  1. Letter For Annie
  2. Popsong
  3. Harbour Lights
  4. Remember
  5. Some Frontier
  6. 1989
  7. Anderson Shelter Blues
  8. The Promise
  9. Untitled #9
  10. A180 Song