STA is now Ten Years Old

This Album's Certainly Neither Empty Or Derivative

"...Bands can be funny and opinionated but also creative."

Form An Orderly Queue’, ‘I’m In The Band’ and ‘Your Fictitious Character’. 4 Or 5 Magicians are not afraid to make a statement in their song titles. The lyrics are equally spiky – “I’ve had enough, I’m totally bored, change the record, I can’t take anymore, I’ve resorted to listening to Radio 4”. Unashamedly brash but with a wittiness in the lyrics that seems to come naturally to frontman Dan Ormsby, the Brighton band’s debut album 'Empty Derivative Pop Songs' aims to show bands can be funny and opinionated but also creative.

 

But "I’m In The Band" starts off: “You’re in the crowd and I’m in the band”. Hang on, didn’t we hear something similar five years ago when Art Brut released their debut album? And Ormsby even singspeaks like Eddie Argos. However whereas Argos tried to motivate the kids in to forming bands, Ormsby takes on the role of a frontman who does not care one jot for their fans. A vicious attack on some of his peers, they are words that need to be said and all too true. At times, 4O5M may be too cynical for their own good but the jangling melodies and rhyming couplets go someway to rectifying this.

 

Weezer are an obvious influence in the guitarwork, whereas the more respected end of Britpop – Terrorvision, Supergrass and the under-rated Hefner – play a major part in their sound. Echoes of The Moldy Peaches’ detuned punk are also present. Admirably lo-fi and persistently catchy, it’s a shame some of the album just seems to drift by rather than really grab you. One song that most definitely does seize the moment is "Behind Each Other Backs", a song about losing contact with close friends.

 

"Out Of My Hands" follows this up with a sweet story about growing old too soon and clinging to your youth. Seemingly autobiographical and discussing how “opinions change, mine stay the same”, and wondering if you really have missed opportunities by not getting on the property ladder, married too young etc, you find yourself agreeing with Ormsby’s downbeat opinions. They are similar themes to those that anger Frank Turner so much. And attitudes like this need to be applauded.

 

Cynical and delicious irony runs through 4O5M’s sound, bringing to mind the likes of early 90s favourites Carter USM and The Wonderstuff. Bold lyrics that range from the mundane reality of life to the authenticity of science (‘Oh! Darwin’) showcase their vision, but you remain thankful 4O5M are not scared of a decent pop hook. However, the constant pessimism does begin to drag halfway through the album. Luckily the likes of "Change The Record" and closer "Preaching To The Conversed" liven up the proceedings. This album’s certainly neither Empty or Derivative.

 

Rating 7/10

- Ryan Barham, The 405