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Back in 2002, Busted made the assumption that in the Year 3000 they would see “boy bands, and another one, and another one, and another one”. From the days of Take That in the early 90s to today’s churning out of bands like One Direction and The Wanted, it’s pretty clear to see how they made that visualisation as boybands do seem to always be a big part of British music culture. When picking up five piece band The Overtones new album “Higher”, I was expecting standard boy band tracks which tend to alternate between tacky upbeat pop songs and drippy ballads. To my surprise, it was actually very pleasant to hear a group that seem to have broken down these conventions.
The band were formed in 2010 and all members share an interest in the doo-wop genre of the 1950s along with modern pop and “Higher” really does show off this creative hybrid that the Overtones have adopted and it does seem to separate them from the standardised boy band sound. Despite a couple of slightly cheesy tracks such as the cover of Fairground Attraction’s “Perfect” and the slow ballad “You’ve Got That Loving Feeling”, “Higher” presents an array of colourful styles and even these tracks are much more layered and complex than you’d typically hear from a boy band.
The doo-wop inspiration is something that really shines through on the album and the boys prove it’s an exciting genre that’s sadly been left in the past. “Runaround Sue” and “Reet Petite” are two absolute gems that both expose the raspy vocals of Lachie Chapman in contrast to the more common Bublé inspired voice of Timmy Matley. Along with the input of scat singing and Big Band style instrumentation they create a very tight sound and it’s clear they’re beginning to master a style that they will hopefully continue to develop through their time as a group.
There are a fair few songs to get your fingers clicking on “Higher”, but the soulful five successfully go down the route of laid back blues ballads with songs such as “Unfortgettable” which would certainly have Sinatra smiling from ear to ear and “The Glory of Love” is yet another enjoyable track exploring which really evokes how the voice in itself is an instrument.
All things considered, “Higher” is a really pleasant surprise from a bunch of guys who look like Ken dolls in the albums artwork. Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s much more than it seems.