It’s nigh-on ten years since The Ordinary Boys last released a full-length album (2006 was nearly ten years ago, isn’t that a lovely thought?) In the meantime, Arctic Monkeys became the biggest band in the world, we’ve had an extremely rubbish coalition government, and everyone stopped caring about reality television. Not only that, Ordinary Boys frontman (Samuel) Preston wrote a few hit songs – most notably ‘Heart Skips A Beat’, the ubiquitously annoying number one single for the ubiquitously annoying Olly Murs. Thankfully Ordinary Boys’ new album is nothing of the sort. While some of the lyrics verge on the side of cliché, the guitars pack a punch. And there’s not even a sniff of ska influences on this record. Anyone with a passing knowledge of early to mid noughties indie music will know of the Ordinary Boys and their musical style. Songs like ‘Nine2Five‘, ‘Talk Talk Talk’ and ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ cemented their place as a half-decent Britpop inspired ska/indie band for the first generation of what we may now call ‘lads’. The single ‘I Luv U’ showed the band’s more tender side, whilst showcasing Preston’s not inconsiderable talent for writing a really solid pop song. They’d carved their niche and they made some pretty decent songs, but the new album is entirely on another level. They’ve transcended lad-ska-pop and Fred Perry polo shirts, turned their guitars up and frankly – they’ve grown up. It’s an awful cliché to proclaim a band or artist has ‘matured’ or ‘grown up’, but the Ordinary Boys really have. The album opens in gut-busting fashion to the throes of ‘About Tonight’, as a track that leans so close to alt-rock it’s hard to believe you’re truly listening to the Ordinary Boys. Its thumping chorus and heavier-than-thou guitars set the tone for the rest of the record. “We’ve finally stumbled on a sound we like and feel comfortable with” – read our interview with The Ordinary Boys ‘Awkward‘ is probably the highlight, with lines like “didn’t really know what I should say” and the anthemic chorus line ‘I had to write this song to say/That I’m awkward.’ The lyrics tap into the minds of every 16-30 year old who’s ever called someone by their own name by accident on first meeting. The album’s lead single ‘Four Letter Word’ is a good song wrapped around a lyrical idea that’s may be a bit tired, but we can forgive it, since the preceding and following tracks are so good. The epigrammatically titled ‘I’m Leaving You (And I’m Taking You With Me)‘ conveys Preston’s lyrical wit, in an album that is guilty of sometimes lacking verbal prowess. This is made up for however by the musical backdrop – the aforementioned guitars hit harder than most balls-to-the-wall rock bands out there these days. There is some lovely guitar solo work on ‘Putting My Heart On The Line’. Guitar solos may not be so en vogue these days but it would have been a real treat to hear more – perhaps on the next record? The final track ‘Disposable Anthem’ is just what it says on the tin – a disposable anthem for “modern romancing”. The album highlight ‘Awkward‘ could possibly have been better served closing out the record, but it doesn’t present a huge problem. This is a really good album from a band who have managed to successfully go away for a significant period of time and come back bigger, better and ballsier. It’s a while since a band has come out with a really good, straight-up rock album with well-crafted songs and good production. This production is thanks to the likes of Rory Atwell and Dan Lancaster on production and mixing duties respectively – the same Dan Lancaster who’s worked with Bring Me the Horizon and Lower Than Atlantis (that’s why the guitars sound so huge!) If you’re thinking this is going to be a 2004-era Ordinary Boys album, all style and no substance, think again. This is a real triumph of musical maturity from a band a lot of us had forgotten about – more fool us.