Inoffensive pop-rock and a really dodgy band name.

It was probably the yell at the beginning of 'Oblivion' that alerted me to the fact that maybe this wasn't the greatest record ever written, or maybe my bias began as soon as I read the name upon their album. Let me get this straight: there are the Green Days of this world and then there are the Busteds. Their band name alone swiftly places Swirl 360 into the latter category. Within a minute of the sunshine coated tones of 'Oblivion' I found myself making a mental note of the band's shortcomings. Immediately I labelled this as generic, tiresome mid paced pop rock aimed at girls trying to find a substitute for Busted... If only the band photograph supported this idea- Staring from the back of the promo slip are four men too old to be appealing to pre teens looking for someone to idolise. Perhaps Swirl 360 have another agenda.

The album California Blur does, as promised, contain a record of the problems to hit the band since their last album Ask Anybody, but it is hard to detect behind the sickly sweet guitars. Just as fingers are likely to twitch for stop buttons however, 'Chemical (My True Love)' brings a little darkness onto the horizon, until the chorus kicks in and morphs those brooding guitars into an extension of the first two tracks- somewhat of a letdown. And that's the story of this album... a song which promises the world then gives you a 10p lollypop instead before the next song tries the same and you foolishly fall for the trick again.

Everything is there, waiting, for the band to take the idea and build it into a classic melodic rock anthem, yet their affinity for choruses that will be on the lips of more than a few pre teens gets the better of them most of the time. It takes them until track four to resist the temptation and the listener is treated to a slightly slower song where the curving bassline can be clearly heard. There's even a quiet little guitar solo half way through.

In many ways, this album is similar to Comfort In Sound, hinting at past or future greatness, if only it wasn't stuck in its own groove of non-specific radio rock. By the fifth track things are looking a little better. 'See You Around' builds on the heavy atmosphere from 'Perfect Day' and although the optimistic sound doesn't match the lyrics, you can see that Swirl 360 are not quite as dire as the first few songs would lead you to believe. By the time 'My Mistake' rears its head the album has stopped being an irritating adventure into the realm of pop-punk of the Busted variety and is merely nothing special. You can't fault Swirl 360 for the effort put into California Blur because they've continued where many bands would fail. Their perseverance and determination both defies their music and shows that somewhere amongst those soft vocals and unobtrusive guitars lies the makings of a true rock band.