Billy Ruffian - Death Of A Band

David Segurola 26/07/2006

Rating: 2/5

'Death of a Band', debut single-cum-three track demo, from Manchester six-piece Billy Ruffian shows hints of promise, with its familiarly ambitious DIY rock and roll, and brings us a talented, charismatic front man in Stephen Bray. The single is Bray's half witty, half bitter sitcom take on yet another home made band coming to an ugly demise, rolling in and out of spoken word narrative, caught between spitlines of feedback and bass drum.

'Preensters' shows, no matter how hard it tries, all the attacking flair of an inebriated goalkeeper and its attempts at barracking the establishment resemble an indie kid in skinny Marks and Spencers jeans bought by his Mum. It just doesn't fit; it's oddly out of place, and not in an admirable or quirky way. See the catastrophic rhyme closer, “…and that's why I call them preensters”. Image if Mclusky lacked most, but not all, of their aggression, offensive vigour and banal humour, and there you have Billy Ruffian.

Second b-side '(My Girlfriend Is Like A) Trojan Horse' is, frankly, bemusing, but not completely risible. At the first listen, I wasn't sure if Bray was a) Saying his girlfriend was a heroine addict, b) Saying his girlfriend looked like a horse or c) Showing off because his girlfriend played such an important role in one of the better known Greek myths. Either way, like the preceding two songs, 'Trojan Horse' sounds pointedly DIY with just an iota of amateurishness, but is still inexplicably likeable.

Perhaps it's the naïve ambition, or lead singer Stephen Bray's Eddie Argos-esque crumpled business suit charm, or perhaps it's the fact they've managed to create three songs which conjure up the image of Mclusky, The Fall and Art Brut fronting up to each other like a bunch of rock and roll tarts. Ultimately, however, 'Death of a Band' is mainly comprised of half-cut ideas, half-cut guitar solos and half-cut attacks on “the scene”. A commendable debut effort with signs of promise, but the residing feeling is that Billy Ruffian are destined to be a stepping stone for Stephen Bray towards bigger, better things - and, most importantly, much more convicted efforts at making a dent in the NME's hairspray army.

Billy Ruffian Myspace