Five O’Clock Heroes
Speak Your Language
The Pogues-y rattling pace and lyrical disquiet of opener ‘Judas’ manage to just about hold your attention, but proceedings take a sharp downward turn from thereon in. ‘New York Chinese Laundry’ is an embarrassing ode to singer Antony Ellis’ adopted home city; ‘Speak Your Language’ shamelessly kidnaps Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ then slashes all traces of fun from Al’s face. ‘Alice’ is a song so twee even The Beautiful South would reject it as bland. ‘Trust’ is the tipping point, when Ellis’ voice will make you reach for a bleach and arsenic cocktail – he sounds like a gonad impersonating Paul Weller. Said mannerisms then make ‘Don’t Say Don’t’ that rare thing: a white reggae song where you actually wish the singer would put on a fake Jamaican accent.
Things marginally improve with ‘Everybody Knows It’ and ‘These Girls’, which shift towards Elvis Costello-style new wave. In fact, if the Heroes could add some Costello-style bite to their lyrics rather than toothless stuff like “I remember everything/You act like love is just a game” they could find a way out of the pits. It’s a long way up though – tail-enders ‘Radio Lover’ and ‘Happy Together’ lack heart, adventure, anger, joy – everything necessary to make them good. This isn’t criticism for the sake of it, it’s criticism asking them to change, or maybe stop, because this isn’t fun for anyone.
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