On their debut single, 'Honey', Scotland's answer to the Stereophonics display the same fixation with seventies rock as the stadium filling Welshmen. But where the 'phonics have always surfed close to rock cliche, The Grim Northern Social sound like a band losing their balance in a nasty AC/DC undertow.
The main problem is that Ewan MacFarlane's lead vocal has the irritating habit of occasionally veering off into rawk yelping that seems insufficiently ironic. The backing vocals are also disturbing as they are delivered in a throwback rock style by offering a delayed mirroring of the lead vocal. I may be doing the band a disservice by focusing on minor elements of the track, because after a few plays the actual tune was winning me over. But I don't really need another guilty pleasure because I already have the option of digging out my hidden Bon Jovi albums.
Second track 'Nobody' is in a similar vein to 'Honey' and the final song, 'The Grim Northern Social' aims for the epic but sadly falls flat. It begins in a very mellow way before a brief flirtation with electro, which then culminates in a failed attempt at the grandness of The Verve.
The five piece group got their record deal after being nominated as Best Unsigned Band at Radio One's In The City. They now have to prove they can develop upon that recognition and carve a distinctive niche of their own.