No Mundane Options
For the second album from The Paddingtons expect no frills and few inspired lyrics, but then that is exactly what you would expect. Despite an irony soaked opening to 'Punk RIP', (electronic bleeps, who’d have thought it?) this is punk rock pop at its simplest. Let’s face it, this was never going to be revolutionary, as the band themselves seem to confirm with 'What’s The Point In Anything New', their rant against major labels. Such absence of complication makes you wonder how it took them so long to release the album, that is if they found a distributor. Whilst The Paddingtons have taken three years between albums, their competition have been popping them out like rabbits on heat. The public interest in the scuzziest of British punk is at saturation point, so it must be particularly galling having their thunder stolen by chart wars from the likes of The Pigeon Detectives and The View.
Maybe something different will avail. Yet their take on Pixies’ brand of alternative rock borders on the peculiar for 'Shame About Elle', a song about a dead cat. Offbeat and coyly melancholy, with guitar strums that linger uncomfortably and deadpan dumb vocals; bizarrely it does not sound as awful as it really should. While the track creates hints of a diversion it barely lasts, what the band may have learnt between albums could probably be written on the back of a cigarette packet. During tiresome title track, 'No Mundane Options', you wonder if a rhyming dictionary was at hand during demo sessions at The Charlatans’ studio in Cheshire. Inevitably the standard dips to Kaiser Chiefs levels of inanity with a verse consisting solely of woops for Molotov Cocktail. Leave The Paddingtons within their limits and they can produce absorbingly raucous gems such as 'Plastic Men' and 'Stand Down', complete with choruses as ludicrously catchy as an STD during Fresher’s Week. Comparably, anything paced below frenetic sounds laboured and instantly forgettable such as their effort for a love song, 'You And I'.
You just hope that they steer clear of anything complicated like multi syllabic words or the occasional change in chord. Even the production values are simple, hard hitting enough. Much like the arrangements, the lyrics sound dazed and confused. Take this Ivor Novello challenging example from 'Gangs', “I’m glad you’re feeling good. I just gotta go. I’ll tell you where I’ve been, I don’t really know”.
With such a distorted repertoire, the final damning effect is of a collection of polished demos than a considered album. Strange considering that it seems The Paddingtons have at least tried to change. Despite the time off, the competition and decamping to New York, No Mundane Options still sounds, well, dated and mundane.