The Square Table: 2/ The Ordinary Boys – “Talk Talk Talk”

Pop Rating: 407 Controversy Score: 204 Length:

Yelling the words “grey and boring” in your chorus is tempting fate, and sure enough fate rears up and grabs the bait firmly in her pitiless jaws.

I have a mild, furtive sympathy for the Ordinary Boys because I have never liked small talk either. In fact I used to be rather a prig about it, proud that family dinners degenerated into combative verbal slugging. The fact is though that my Mum and I battling it out over the value of modern art was exactly as consequential as tittle-tattle about Mrs.Green from No.42. Was it more fun? Only if you’re 18.

And if I was 18 I might have liked this insufferably. I say “might” because I was also quite precious about The Smiths and took a dim view of people using their legacy drably. The Ordinary Boys for most of this track manage a fair musical equivalent of the workaday, time-filling chatter they affect to hate, a burly yomp through the guitar-rock mud which gets its hooks across by shouting them (preferable to moaning them, so bonus point). There’s a nice bit of chimey guitar towards the end of the track, but it’s hardly enough. 4 (Tom)

Recently, the hosts of the Breakfast Show on TalkSPORT did a record, that being the godawful ‘Come On England’ by 4-4-2. If Nicky Campbell were to have a similar idea, it would sound like this. 0 (William B Swygart)

As I believe Tanya said, once you realise he sounds like the bloke out of The Family Cat there is no going back. This song as a political rant is almost as empty as ver Cat’s seminal “Bring Me The Head Of Michael Portillo”. Good inasmuch as it highlights how bloody good Shed Seven were (in case you forgot). And, fact fans, the weather has only been rainy and boring since I first heard this song. 2 (Pete)

The world needs a Gene tribute band like a fish needs a Bono. 2 (Diego Valladolid)

First of all, the weather’s been fantastic in these parts for the past 3 weeks, so don’t give me this Manic Monday London Fog garbage. Second of all, small talk’s got its proper place, lads (cf. the bloody fookin’ lyrics) (or is this meta-ironic?) (seriously, the wit here’s so arid, I’m parched) (PS – fuck you and your quaint UK irony Damon Albarn) (hugglz). Thirdly, 15 quid for a hoodie from a group that sounds like Green Day covering Billy Bragg covering 10,000 Maniacs? Balls. Speaking of balls, the growing of hair on the offending sacs of the OBs would improve things immensely. 3 (David Raposa)

Thud thud thud thud thud thud chug-gah chug-gah choppychord guitar, that peculiar open-voweled yodel/whine, a flat-footed four-four strop through the dull grey streets of Every Trite Indie Song About How Stuff Nowadays Is A Bit Rubbish, Ever. It’s like if Shed Seven and Gene bred, and lost any hint of charm either might have had in the process: workmanlike, derivative, and forgettable. 3 (Cis)

“I went to a shrink…” It’s “Basket Case” by Green Day! I like the guitar bit at sround 1 minute 10 seconds, but that’s about all I do like about this one. Overall, it’s kind of a jumble sale song, bits of this, bits of that, other people’s hand-me-down’s. Also, the singer’s voice is kinda annoying – I hate that sort of affected snotty vocal style. It’ll be a hit. 4 (jel)

I do not own a cell phone, for the stupid reason that I do not want to become a member of the ever-growing legion of blather-on-about-absolutely-nothing people I encounter daily on the subway, sidewalk, etc. So I’m, at the very least, sympathetic to the Ordinary Boys plea for intelligent, critical conversation. Likewise, I dig their referent points: their name is a Morrissey song title, “Talk Talk Talk” is a Psychedelic Furs album, and musically it recalls The Jam. Lyrically, though, there’s no bite here, no trace of the sarcasm that made all those so interesting. “Talk Talk Talk” (the single) has some great hooks, but is dragged down by its own earnestness. It ultimately reminds me of Gene, in those unseemly moments when they “rocked out”. 5 (Henry Scollard)

I’m an old punk, and anything that sounds as if its model is going to be Stiff Records in 1977 gets me on its side from the start. I like the strong guitar intro and choppy riffing, but the guitar breaks are horrible and pointless, interrupting the insistence of much of the rest. I’m torn between thinking that the lyrics needed a tune
with hypnotic monotony behind it, perhaps a Wire sound, and thinking that this is quite monotonous enough and needed more anger, but from either perspective the guitar breaks and the fizzle-out finish don’t work.

The vocals barely rise above Billy Bragg, though I like the shouty group replies here and there (I’ve always liked yobbish backing vocals, ever since the Belmonts). I didn’t care for the lyrics: all the “too much small talk leads to a small mind” stuff rather reminds me of one of the least pleasant recent ILE threads, ‘what do stupid people talk about?’ – maybe it’s this association as much as the lyrics themselves that give this an unattractive air of smug superiority, a feeling of the Ordinary Boys looking down on ordinary boys and girls. I can see this lot finding a big audience, becoming a UK Strokes or something, but this tune seems to have some of the faults it is complaining about – it’s a bit unoriginal and banal. 5 (Martin Skidmore)

So some company’s decided to re-release a single by some no-name punk band from ’81 trying their best to sound like a cross between The Jam and The Mekons, and credit it to a “new band” in order to capture the Libertines audience, eh? What? No? It’s an actual new single by a real band? Well, I’ll be. 5 (Daniel Rieffersheid)

Wow, the Van Bondies go to London! This is fun, bouncy, getting-ready-to-go-out music; the sort of thing that is likely to show up in an iPod commercial before too long. There’s a real lack of originality and not much that makes this stand out from the crowd but as generic ROCKNROLLWILLNEVAHDIE! music, it gets the job done. No complaints. 6 (Forksclovetofu)

If only I was still stuck in university, dressed in oversized sweaters and ripped jeans, I might have given this a tenner – I couldn’t have given it more because my budget would not have allowed it, har har. But, alas, I dropped out, mainly for statistics and the annoying Smiths obsessed fellow students trying to infiltrate my pea-sized brain with messages like “Buy Parklife!” and “The Queen Is Dead out-brilliants any Freudian Theory.”

So, uh, I soooorta like it in a nostalgic kinda way. It reminds me of The Jam (bonus point), cheekily steals from The Smiths (two bonus points, one for being at the right time) and it’s not yet another lukewarm R&B song (hah! that’s for the next round!). In short it’s just terribly English and a harmless ditty that never outgrows its 6 points. (Stevie Nixed)

I like this – it’s an english Fountains of Wayne, kind of clever, kind of catchy, with the boy voice jangling over the guitar choruses – somewhere near the end said guitar chorus becomes absurd, though. What happened to that punchy, drunken, codependent, pubstar voice – all we get as a coda is the guitar, and shouldn’t codas end quicker?

But the stuff that isn’t guitar is lovely and fun in its own way – especially how it indicates that the filler conversation that everyone partcipates in could be considered a dodge for serious emotional commitment, and then says “fuck it who needs emotionally commitment”. (In this genius line: “Too much small talk leads to a small mind, so tell me all your secerts. I will never tell you mine.”) 7 (Anthony Easton)