Orphan Boy - Passion, Pain & Loyalty

The Orphan Boy sound gets a reboot on their second album, replacing it's predecessor's "post-post punk music in which choruses were forbidden…" with Passion, Pain & Loyalty's throwback to the anthemic pop of the 1980s. Evoking the earnest rock posturings of yesteryear, with songs that catalogue urban disillusionment, the album paints a poignant picture of adolescent hopes and fears, like a musical equivalent of graffiti carved in a school desk.

Although the songs are typically brimming with catchy choruses, there is not enough attention paid to how to embellish themes elsewhere in the songs, which at times seem workmanlike. Constrained by the album's no frills production, the texture seems rather one-dimensional, and as a result the album proves wearisome for the listener. The album's remit covers folk rock (most distinctively, on 'Some Frontiers' and 'Untitled 9'), straightforward rockers ('Letter for Annie' and 'Pop Song'), ballads ('Harbour Lights' and '1989'), blues ('Anderson Shelter Blues'), and poppier efforts ('Remember' and 'The Promise').

Although the sound would probably translate well to a festival or concert, the album might benefit from more grandiose production, to bring the sound to life, and to encourage listeners to persevere with the songs.

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