The Ordinary Boys - Over The Counter Culture
There's clearly no irony in the name of the band as The Ordinary Boys are much to serious for that. Instead, there's a grim sense of being nothing other than straightforward when the spiky rock of Over The Counter Culture stutters in. Even the name of the album has something of the dreary puns of the cheap gags of student politics about it, saying as much about the lyrical content of the album as is necessary, which is that it has an unfocused fury that, although having moments, becomes tiresome over the length of an admittedly short album.
But what's it angry about? The image of the sheep on the cover gives us one clue, as does the deli counter ticker on the back, announcing that our turn is #2564616742, which leads one to assume that The Ordinary Boys, as with so many other teenagers, are doing nothing more than raging at everything with most of their ire directed towards the great, grey morass of the middle classes, working classes and their own parents. Like Rik from The Young Ones or, more topically, Kitten from this year's Big Brother, The Ordinary Boys find fault with so much - our dependence on computers, the number of cars on the road, their girlfriends, their lack of girlfriends, the absence of a revolution, the looming threat of a nine-to-five job, etc. - that anyone not in their fifth or sixth form, at university or actively involved in the weekend selling of Socialist Worker will find the whole thing becomes nothing more than a thirty-three minute moan about, well, everything. There's no surprise, therefore, when Week In, Week Out features the lyric, "You stand in line completely still / Feel truly unfulfilled, week in, week out." And yet, there are more
Lyrically, it is somewhat similar to early The The - Burning Blue Soul, in particular - but where Matt Johnson had a sound that was a great, angsty mix of New Wave, sampling and his own scratchy psyche, The Ordinary Boys have the same crunchy blast of two-guitar punk/rock that thousands of others have had considerably less success with, providing success can be seen as having signed a record deal. There is a good cover of Little Bitch but that has more to do with Jerry Dammers way with a pop hook than anything brought to the song by The Ordinary Boys but, Seaside, their own song is the best original on the record. As with the rest of the album, Seaside has its moments of teenage frustration - "Enjoy your pretty things, the things you'll never use / You're overdrawn and underpaid and overweight" - but the chorus has an appeal that's lacking on the rest of the album.
Looking through the lyric sheet, however, the same one idea jumps out over and over again and The Ordinary Boys end up sounding as dull as they so quickly proclaim everyone else to be. Once you graduate or reach the early-to-mid-twenties, no one group of people are more boring than teenagers and, listening to Over The Counter Culture, I can't imagine The Ordinary Boys being much older than eighteen or nineteen. Each song is like a visit from a seventeen-year-old nephew who's looking forward to getting involved in university politics, standing for the Revolutionary Communist Party, naturally but whereas you know that they'll eventually grow out of it and put their education to use, The Ordinary Boys won't have much more than a few, poorly-graded GCSE's between them. Expect them, therefore, to be the kind of pizza delivery guys who spit in your takeaway just before they knock on the door of your suburban semi.