The Orwells - Disgraceland (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE sophomore release from The Orwells is a gloriously gritty slice of American rock that is an absolute blast.
Boasting production help from Dave Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold, TV On the Radio), Chris Coady (Smith Westerns, Beach House) and Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys), this is punchy, direct and – above all – fun.
Recorded last Autumn at studios in London, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Woodstock, NY, the album is the story of The Orwells escaping the confines of their hometown and of their own expectations for themselves. In some senses, Dirty Sheets and North Ave, the songs are autobiographical and detail ‘feelings bundled up from high school shit’.
But in other senses, they’re more expansive and resonate more widely, as on tracks like Southern Comfort and the out and out album highlight Bathroom Tile Blues.
If you’re looking for comparisons, then think about what you might get if you crossed elements of The Strokes with Jet, early Arctic Monkeys and The Pixies. But The Orwells also have their own sense of identity.
And they’re great at turning out brash guitar rockers that are instantly catchy. Let It Burn is another classic example: it’s striking guitars drawing comparisons to the likes of Arctic Monkeys giving rise to an anthemic chorus that will doubtless have you singing along in giddy abandon.
Bathroom Tile Blues, meanwhile, opens with a glorious guitar hook and has a hedonistic feel that’s bluesy, raw, lived in and achingly good. Again, you’ll be singing along to the chorus.
Admittedly, some tracks – like Who Needs You and Always N’Forever have an over familiar kind of vibe to them and sound more like fillers, albeit with the energy to suddenly burst into life over their larger than life choruses.
But when the album gets it right, it’s difficult not to be swept along in its momentum and to forgive the occasional lapse into the ordinary.
Hence, tracks like Blood Bubbles and Norman will also rock your world – the former, especially, having a gutsy sense of anguish that’s invigorating (complete with rollicking good guitar work).
Put together, Disgraceland is a really great listen.
Download picks: Southern Comfort, Bathroom Tile Blues, Let It Burn, Norman, Blood Bubbles
Watch the video for Let It Burn: