I must confess to knowing very little about One Eyed Wayne, but a title like Attack of the Luxury Flats was always bound to get my attention.
The debut album by the Hornsey quartet, it’s an endearingly ramshackle ride, which wears its influences firmly on its sleeve.
The Fall-style title track is a bruising indictment of gentrification, as local amenities – schools, hospitals, pubs, shops and working men’s clubs – are torn down to make way for “compact and bijou” rabbit hutches with “lovely little bathrooms”.
Dripping with cynicism, it’s a poignant song, which reveals a social conscience behind One Eyed Wayne’s insouciant laddish exterior.
One Two Three Four sounds like a a box of chisels being hurled down a hill – but in a good way.
Almost psychobilly in its rambunctious rock ‘n’ roll rhythms, it’s a rollercoaster ride of a song, with twin guitars like racing cars, chasing each other round the track.
Spidery guitar shapes herald the arrival of Shakey Shakey, a sharply drawn tale of misspent youth.
Lines like The Ashtrays of Wisdom/They just overflowed, evincing a keen eye for lyrical observation.
Tear Up comes over like an inebriated Madness song with it’s punk-ska stylings, singer Steve Donoghue sounding like a ringer for Hersham Boys hero Jimmy Pursey.
A burst of Hammond organ takes us into A Little Grey Matter, an, ahem, smart little number, that displays yet more lyrical dexterity.
The piano-led Various Artists is another track which owes a debt to Madness.
Peopled with colourful characters like Lobotomy Jones, it also wouldn’t be out of place in Ian Dury‘s back catalogue.
Escalator is a booze-drenched tale or a man whose life goes downhill after being dumped by “that girl” with the “pretty blue eyes”.
There’s folk-punk in the style of The Levellers or The Men They Couldn’t Hang on LSD.
It jigs along merrily enough, but feels a bit like a filler.
After The Break is much better – a withering critique of those TV-ads we all love to hate, it mercilessly lampoons the inanity of advertising lingo.
Album closer What In A Moment is a touching paean to the glory days of punk/new wave and the joys of discovering fanzine Sniffin’ Glue and falling in love with Siouxsie Sioux.
The aforementioned Ian Dury gets a namecheck and there’s a cheeky steal of the infamous England’s Dreaming line from Sex Pistols‘ God Save The Queen.
All in all this is fine debut and it’s no surprise that the band has been picking up airplay from the likes of BBC 6 Music‘s Steve Lamacq and Chris Hawkins.
The challenge for the next album is whether Donoghue and cohorts Dean Leggett, Don Adams and Pat Joslin, can outgrow their influences and develop a sound that’s all their own.
Songs like Attack of the Luxury Flats (see below) show they have the potential to achieve that. It’ll certainly be interesting to hear them try.
- Attack of the Luxury Flats is available now from Rough Trade record or from the One Eyed Wayne’s Bandcamp page.