‘Bright Idea’ came to the attention of the British record buying public in 2006 on the back of the single ‘No Tomorrow’.
The album itself was originally released in 2004 independently and caused no fuss at all in their home city of Los Angeles and indeed in the good ole U S of A. To those in the know this came as quite a surprise as the album was expertly produced by Noah Shain and contained a veritable feast of hooky radio ready pop songs seemingly available for record labels to take advantage with minimum effort.
Orson, fed up with the ignorance shown to their skills in their home country turned to shores further a field and played a showcase convention in Manchester England. The mother of all bidding wars started with UK record labels falling over themselves to sign the band that eventually settled with Mercury. ‘No Tomorrow’ propelled the band to greater things with ‘Bright Idea’ hitting the top of the UK album charts and the band going on to collect a coveted Brit award.
Subsequent singles from Bright Idea were met with a lukewarm reception struggling to achieve the giddy heights achieved by ‘No Tomorrow’.
New album ‘Culture Vultures’ looks to reaffirm the band’s popularity in the UK, but the apparent apathy toward anything other than ‘No Tomorrow’ may prove to be a pointer as to where the band could be in twelve months time. ‘Bright Idea’ was a consummately paced pop rock album with anthemic pop tunes competing with the more downbeat slow burners.
With ‘Culture Vultures’ Orson seem to be searching for the elusive second big hit single. The tunes-particularly on the opening half of the album-are frenetic and hook laden. ‘Radio’-an ode to lack of decent music on the radio-has huge American power pop influences stemming from bands like Fountains Of Wayne and the lesser-known Marvelous 3. First single ‘Ain’t No Party’ sounds like Orson doing Maroon 5 and ‘The Contortionist’ feels like the same song slowed down with its prominent keyboard riff. No doubt about it the hooks and big choruses come thick and fast, but it all seems so much more throwaway than the debut. The Beach Boys-esque harmony vocals on the catchy ‘Debbies Gone’ could have been lifted from The Click Five’s debut album and as a whole the album seems to have slipped away from the more eclectic and noticeably more retro ‘Bright Idea’. Those moments are still there but in less abundance; the Police tinged ‘Northern Girl’, the Northern soul-esque ‘Little Miss Lost and Found’ or the dreamy Drifters influenced ‘Everybody’ all reflect Orson’s genius of making retro music sound fresh and new.
'Culture Vultures'is a decent effort but it appears to have laid on the thick pop gloss with a trowel. The UK market in general has historically shunned away from slick American pop rock, however Orson would do well to ride their luck and rely on those who shelled out for the debut.