The Five O Clock Heroes - Bend To The Breaks

Emily Tartanella 20/10/2006

Rating: 2/5

Those great philosophers in Spinal Tap once said that there was a thin line between clever and stupid. Well, there's an equally thin line between homage and parody, and The Five O'Clock Heroes are constantly on the verge of falling. Their hotly-tipped debut makes promises of grandeur, but doesn't exactly deliver.

The influences are unmistakable, and it's all too easy to point them out. But what the hell - let's go through them anyway. Of course there's the Jam, from which the boys borrowed their name. There's the Clash, whose reggae-infused rock is ubiquitous on this album. But one often overlooked touchstone comes straight from the Big Apple (the home of 50% of the band itself): Frontman Antony Ellis' voice bears a remarkable similarity to Joey Ramone (especially on the fantastic “Head Games”), and makes pronouncements like “White girls/They don't bother me” sound positively seditious.

But that's all part of the illusion - The Five O'Clock Heroes really aren't rebels. Sure, they lambaste consumerist culture (“Corporate Boys”) and lament those femme fatales (on approximately 2/3 of the album), but there's not really much below the surface. Besides, lyrics like “I could love you just a little bit more… I never met a girl like you before” (“First Night”) aren't going to help anybody.

It's impossible to separate any great artist from their, well, heroes, and we really shouldn't try. But the key is to develop a unique style from those influences, otherwise the gaping maw that claimed the Bravery and the Ordinary Boys might be one flop single away.