Review of Boy Least Likely To's album 'The Law Of The Playground' released through Too Young To Die on 9th March 09.
It's been a long wait for the follow up to this indie pop duo's acclaimed 2005 debut album, The Best Ever Party. Their new offering, The Law Of The Playground is a definite step up, a more complex and grown up but still managing to maintain youthful innocence.
A cleverly produced, beautifully layered sound. The overall effect created by composer and instrumentalist, Peter Hobbs, is indie pop with a heavy country/ folk influence. Light hearted, bouncy rhythms are overlaid with all manner of instruments; fiddles, banjos, recorders and glockenspiel to name just a few, and then a spattering of electro sounds over the top creating an overall slightly twee, chintzy sound. Vocally, Jof Owen has a gentle melodic voice that would sit well in the 90s indie pop scene and complements the music well.
The opener, Saddle Up is the perfect introduction to the album and their style in general. An up-beat bouncy ballad with their distinctively abstract lyrics, 'I've got a donkey we can ride; I've got a case of sparkling wine'. Owen's gentle vocals contrast the more sinister lyrics found on Whiskers, 'I found his little plastic shield chewed up on the battle field', the snare drum adding to the dark military style of the song.
Throughout the album the lyrics, like the music are abstract and cleverly layered. On the surface, they are childlike and playful, reminiscent of a summer day in the countryside. But there is a definite sinister and melancholic undertone. A Balloon On A Broken String illustrates this perfectly, childlike freedom punctuated with grown up angst. 'I look shiny and bouncy but I'm empty inside' sings Owen and this darker undertone is the message we get throughout the album.
The Law Of The Playground is the perfect antidote to long winter. Skip along melodic tunes that will make you smile and lift your spirits, but it has so much more to offer than just a feel good pop album.