The Paddingtons: First Comes First

[30 November 2005]

By David Bernard

Bands are often under the misconception that what they are doing is important or revolutionary. This occurs most frequently when bands just miss the worldwide fame that similar bands achieve. With every new musical revolution, a host of bands are carried by that wave and succeed monetarily. Good for them. But there are always bands that miss the wave. For instance, the “the band” revolution that struck our country a few years ago had a number of success stories: The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives, etc. Other bands during that time period were writing similar music, wearing similar constricting jeans, and banging similar models (but the models were not as hot because the band members weren’t as famous). A certain amount of luck must be paired with timing and musical ability. Some get lucky; some bands don’t.

The Libertines blazed the trail for British versions of “the bands” that formed during the same time period. People desperate to listen to bratty cockney accents and fast tempos ate it up, but bands were still left behind. The Paddingtons have been led to believe that the fading of The Libertines means it’s prime time for them to make their mark on the world’s music scene. Unfortunately, they’re going to need a hell of a lot of luck because the musical ability is severely lacking.

The songs are fast and jagged. The vocals are most certainly bratty, but they are also one of the major flaws on the record. They are ragged enough and angst-ridden enough to be cool, but the melodies are afterthoughts. Instead of carving unique melodic landscapes into the trite music, the vocals simply follow along. They never surprise; they never increase the pleasure of the listening experience. It was cool when the Sex Pistols did it because they were the first and sucking was part of their shtick. The Paddingtons are about 25 years too late. When the choruses kick in, they often fail to kick out any remotely interesting jams. They’re just another needed section in a song. Instead of promoting the songs and making them more memorable, choruses exist because they have to (like your younger brother).

“50 to a Pound” is the first song that sounds fully formed. However, the lyrics suffer from trite non sequiturs that are supposed to show the youths’ dissatisfaction with “The Man” and his cohorts in society. In fact, this is what the band had to say about the song in NME: “It’s a bit more, ‘Fuck off, I’ve had enough now.’” Well there you go. Just what I said. On “Loser”, they repeat the mantra, “I’m a loser if you say so”. Dare I say it for them?

The Paddingtons rely too often on punk-pop tricks. For instance, they frequently end a particularly rousing line by staying of the fifth chord of the scale before returning to the first. It happens all the time on this CD. The one significant deviation from the norm is the reggae number “Alright in the Morning”. On this song, they rip off the Clash. It’s not an homage, it’s a karaoke competition.

Don’t believe the hype in the British press. It baffles the hell out of me. This is a repetitive, derivative bore of a record that is much too long, even at only 33 minutes. Is it too much to ask of bands to have a little ingenuity? If you’re waiting for the coming of the next great punk band in shambles, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. The Paddingtons sound as if they’re in shambles, but greatness will likely never grace their crotch-tight pants.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/paddingtons-firstcomes/