Sound: England's fun boys of Brit-pop, The Boy Least Likely To have returned with their second album, The Law Of The Playground. The duo of lead singer Jof Owen and multi-instrumentalist/backup vocalist Peter Hobbs are still enthralled with the perky chimes of the vibraphone and the star-glittered garland of bouncy-ball beats and springy banjo licks spangled in strands of glockenspiel shimmers showing that The Boy Least Likely To have not veered off the course that they conquered on their 2006 debut album, The Best Party Ever, which dubbed them the teletubbies of the pop world. Track after track is garnished in circus-like rhythms and magnetic crystals tethered to country-folk guitar riffs and buoyant vineyards of flapping strings. Few other bands can bottle the innocence of childhood and preserve it the way that The Boy Least Likely To have done.
A regiment of brushed drum strokes wiggling across Every Goliath Has it's David are ribbed in tingling strings and rhythmic guitar chords that line the melody like a band of toy soldiers protecting their citadel, and the gangly banjo strokes of I Keep Myself To Myself are armored in upbeat chimes and marching beats reassembling the cavalcade of a circus troupe. The duo's songs are held together by ligaments and joints that use horns, harmonicas, violins, banjos, synth effects, and glistening guitar strings to create fluffy ripples and delicate ridges. The gentle guitar acoustics sweeping through The Worm Forgives The Plough and The Nature Of The Boy Least Likely To resonate like wind-swept leaves skittering across a country road, and the brisk tempo of A Fairytale Ending is candled in rainbow-like chimes and bouncy, shiny flairs that go off like the cheerful rattles of a baby's toy. It's unreal that a group of adults are infatuated with the sounds of childhood like this, but I have to admit, sometimes it's nice to take a break from life and sink into this sunny pop world that The Boy Least Likely To have created. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics ring with a scheme relatable to nursery rhymes made for adults, addressing their insecurities and vulnerabilities like in Stringing Up Conkers with verses like I sit around in my pajamas Stringing up conkers / And if I want to feel something, I'll stick pencils up my nose I feel too fat to go to the gym, so I sit at home I just want to change the world in whatever it took, the way I can. The verses bob up and down to the gait of the rhythmic beats like a nursery rhyme, although sometimes the words seem like an elixir that fortifies the spirit like in Every Goliath Has it's David with verses that delight, I got a little bag of marbles and a catapult wind around my fingers and I feel very small / But I could make myself big if I wanted to / There's nothing courageous about anything I do My hands are trembling as I try to aim it / But every Goliath has it's David I might be small but I'm not a coward / I've got lucky powers. It's something that a 12 year old would say, but I have to ask, isn't this the basis for the Spiderman movies that hordes of adults went to go see for the last ten years starring the actor, Toby McGuire? // 7
Overall Impression: It's a scary thought to witness how much of childhood seeps into adulthood. The Boy Least Likely To learned not to differentiate the two, when most people have acclimated to keeping the two separate. The duo's second album, The Law Of The Playground is just as dizzily silly and child-like as their debut album was, showing that they like things just the way they are and want to stay put in the kiddie garden they have created. The band's use of wavy instrumentation and bobbing rhythms in their songs is what saves their album, and makes it palatable and intricately braided. Their use of country-folk tones to create kaleidoscopic effects and prismatic shimmers is what gives their songs some attractive textures, and what keeps this duo from being beaten up on the playground of the adult worlds turf. // 7