No Mundane Options
When this Hull fivesome first strutted on to the scene back in 2005, anything seemed possible. Fashionista Hedi Slimane coveted their dapper street style so much he nabbed it for his Dior collection, romantic hero ‘big bro’ Doherty’ was protectively watching their every move and even our own notoriously hard-to-please Mark Beaumont fell head over heels, declaring them “all the passion, rage, filth and fury” of England’s snarling yoof.
Sadly, however, it’s been rocky roads ever since. With a significant gap between offerings number one and two, the fickle kids who once held them so dear got tired and downloaded a whole new bunch of heroes, mentor Doherty went to a dark place, the band got ditched by their label and to top it all off, guitarist Josh Hubbard had to endure a much publicised split with long-term girlfriend Agyness Deyn. So what’s the answer? Gain two tons in weight, grow patchy facial fuzz and give up completely? Elope to foreign lands to lick your wounds? Not this lot. ‘No Mundane Options’, released via their own Mama Bear imprint, is The Paddingtons’ bold stab at a fuck-you-all comeback; a boisterous “COO-EEE, WE’RE BACK!” from the rooftops overlooking a now much-altered musical landscape. And while we salute the band’s valiant attempts and the smattering of punchy new material – highlights include frantic album opener ‘Punk RIP’’s gargantuan riffs, soaring stompathons ‘Molotov Cocktail’ and ‘Stand Down’ and the title track’s red-raw, hollered vocals – ultimately there just isn’t quite enough here to keep us coming back for more. Sonic developments in the form of style, delivery and arrangement (an experimental approach no doubt encouraged by Mogwai producer Tony Doogan, who recorded the album in Glasgow earlier this year) are marred by disappointingly dumb and predictable lyrics, and where the quintet once made it sound so easy to come up with killer choruses, this second effort finds them slumping into forgettable filler territory on more than one occasion.
The cruel truth of the matter is, acts who once held The Paddingtons in high regard are now light years ahead of them when it comes to songwriting ability: look at young pups such as The View, who regularly toss out gold-dust guitar anthems that make these songs seem musically stunted in comparison. It’s sad to say, but this feels like too little, too late.