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The Paddingtons - No Mundane Options

The Paddingtons, No Mundane Options

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE Paddingtons have really endeavoured to put the difficult in “difficult second album” syndrome as they approach their sophomore effort, No Mundane Options.

Back in 2005, they seemed destined for greatness, with a certain Pete Doherty championing their cause and numerous critics lining up to proclaim them as one of the brightest new punk acts on the planet. Then, self destruction loomed.

Tabloid headlines overtook their music as guitarist Josh Hubbard endured a high-profile split from his girlfriend, and they were even dropped by their label. So, licking their wounds, they decamped to the States (and New York), where the young punk-popsters lived, gigged and eventually set about writing their second album.

The result, No Mundane Options, seeks to re-ignite the fire surrounding them – but while it contains some pretty decent punk rock tracks (or, to coin a PR phrase, “punk rock thrills, 3-part harmonies, humming monks (Heart Song) and even a ballad), it may not provide a big enough spark.

Certainly, they’ve lost none of their brashness as a band, with lead single What’s The Point In Anything New emerging as an occasionally thrilling blast at the major record labels.

But where once they were being hailed as trailblazers, now they’re simply forming part of the chasing pack. The punk-rock thing is beginning to sound dated and there’s an ever widening gap between those bands really pushing things forward and carving a name out for themselves, and those riding on their coat-tails.

The Paddingtons fall somewhere in between the good and the almost-great. On songs such as the livewire album opener Punk RIP, which trades sharp riffs with witty lyrics, and the Strokes-esque Shame About Elle, they veer towards the really endearing.

Sticky Fingers, meanwhile, is another little thriller that contains a tremendous energy and plenty of harmony in its cracking guitar work, while Molotov Cocktail mixes Pixies-esque guitar work with some crowd-pleasing “whoo whoo”-ing that helps it to emerge as, arguably, the best track on the album.

Even the ballad, You And I, works well for them, tapping into a tender side without ever going overboard on the emotion (the guitars have plenty of bite, while the vocals are more anguished than romantic).

But just when you think the album is about to firmly re-establish The Paddingtons on the level they previously existed, the album hits a lull when they forget to add anything fresh, exciting or innovative to the mix. The format becomes the same, the pace is unfaltering and – Heartsong excepted – they have a tendency to blur noisily into one.

Hence, No Mundane Options just misses out on being a thrilling comeback. They still have bags of potential and the album has some really worthwhile highlights, but given their previous levels of expectancy, they continue to stand on the threshold of big things.

Download picks: Shame About Elle, Heartsong, Sticky Fingers, Molotov Cocktail, You And I

Track listing:

  1. Punk RIP
  2. What’s The Point In Anything New
  3. Shame About Elle
  4. No Mundane Options
  5. Sticky Fingers
  6. Molotov Cocktail
  7. You And I
  8. Plastic Men
  9. Stand Down
  10. Gangs
  11. Heartsong