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Orson - Culture Vultures

Orson, Culture Vultures

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

ORSON burst onto the scene in 2005 thanks to the success of their lively breakthrough single No Tomorrow, the type of congenial pop-rock offering that was tailor-made to become a summer anthem and remain on the Virgin Radio request list for years and years.

Incredibly, it came from the album Bright Idea that was recorded for just $5,000 and paved the way for it to become platinum-selling.

It’s the type of rags to riches story that’s reflected in a lot of the band’s lyrics…

But now that they’ve arrived the big question was always going to be whether they could maintain the momentum and, on the evidence of sophomore release Culture Vultures, it appears not.

The brief for the LP was to deliver more of the same, only with bigger guitars, louder drums and even more contagious hooks – and while there’s evidence of that from opening song Radio to final track Everybody it just doesn’t feel like much of a progression.

According to lead singer Jason Pebworth, the new release reflects the band’s live shows as: “There’s been this idea that we’re a bunch of guys who were brought together to make a studio album, and for some people, that’s a really bad thing…”

But, he’s keen to add: “The reality is that we’ve been a loud, dirty rock band with noisy guitars and heavy drums for eight years now. It’s a ballsy, foot to the floor, party record that comes dappled with pop hooks and shower-friendly melodies. This is, after all, what Orson do best.”

Fans of tracks like No Tomorrow will no doubt revel in the brashness of lead single Ain’t No Party or the cheeky lyricism of The Contortionist. There are pop melodies and Beach Boys harmonising a plenty – not to mention some soundbites from The Feeling.

But it’s a one-note album that desperately needs some diversity. Almost every track is delivered in an upbeat pop-rock style – with the emphasis firmly on the pop.

There are some standouts, such as the grittier Debbie’s Gone, the more intimately constructed Where You Are (Orson’s bid to replicate the success of the Plain White T’s?), and Little Miss Lost & Found, which embraces a stronger set of vocals and a genuinely catchy vibe.

But most of the time they’re content to pander to the trademark sound of what they think Orson do best – and songs tend to fall into each other and become repetitive.

Culture Vultures will put a smile on your face in places but, for the most part, it’s a disappointing return from a band that had displayed a lot of bright potential.

Download picks: Little Miss Lost & Found, Debbie’s Gone, Where You Are

Track listing:

  1. Radio
  2. Ain’t No Party
  3. Broken Watch
  4. The Contortionist
  5. Gorgeous
  6. Debbie’s Gone
  7. Where You Are Tonight
  8. Little Miss Lost And Found
  9. Northern Girl
  10. Cool Cops
  11. Everybody