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Orson - Bright Idea

Orson, Bright Idea LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

ORSON’S music has been described in some quarters as “the missing link between the Rolling Stones and the Scissor Sisters”. Lead singer, Jason Pebworth, refers to it as “two-guitar power-pop”, or, equally simply, “rock and roll that girls can dance to”.

The debut album from the Hollywood exports certainly achieves the latter, while occasionally hinting at the feel-good brilliance of the Stones in their prime. It’s brash, lively and moves along at a cracking pace – but it’s not the all-conquering success that its hype suggests.

Some tracks are just a little too radio-friendly and light. While the mix of old-school rock and R’n’B funk doesn’t gel quite as successfully as the Scissor Sisters brand of glam-rock.

Most of the songs are about girls and falling in or out of love and they form what is essentially a diary of Jason’s own love life. “I torture myself over lyrics”, he explains further. “Ultimately, the best stuff, the funniest lines, come out of the most heartbreaking times.”

Highlights include the breakthrough smash, No Tomorrow with its immediately catchy riffs and ‘woo-hoo’ chorus that effortlessly creates a feel-good summer vibe. It’s rock ‘n’ roll to watch girls by, complete with a retro vibe that makes it capable of appeal across the generations.

Less successful but still catchy is the title track, Bright Idea, which still manages to lay down a sing-along style chorus – albeit in a less vibrant, less fresh style.

There’s an old-school rock style running throughout Happiness which drops some Stones-inspired guitar riffs during its edgy verses before changing pace into the sort of mainstream-lite chorus that US bands such as Maroon 5 would be proud of. It’s an odd mix – but one that’s more likely to appeal to female listeners than male.

Tryin’ To Help is a full steam ahead rock number that’s an easy listen, while Last Night is a ragged performer, driven by stop-start riffs and a falsetto-style vocal delivery that offers an interesting variation.

A complete change of pace is the piano-driven ballad Look Around which looks destined to bring the cigarette lighters out when played live. Jason’s vocals are at their most aching and it’s a strong listen that eventually gives way into a shimmering guitar solo. The likes of Keane would be proud.

Saving The World hints at the vocal melodies of The Beach Boys early on before turning into a fairly ordinary pop-rock track, while the album closes with The Okay Song, another lively but indifferent offering that pretty much serves as a telling metaphor for a lot of the songs contained within.

Orson are a sunshine band that wear their references on their sleeve. Their music is infectious, occasionally riotously so (as in the case of No Tomorrow), but as easy as listening to them remains, there’s an overriding feeling that their best work is yet to come.

Track listing:

  1. Bright Idea
  2. No Tomorrow
  3. Happiness
  4. Already Over
  5. Tryin’ To Help
  6. So Ahead Of Me
  7. Last Night
  8. Look Around
  9. Saving The World
  10. Okay Song