You should be careful what you wish for because sometimes, just sometimes, it can come true. This writer has long been bemoaning the fact young bands are so taken up with their ‘eclectic’ approaches and pushing the sonic boundaries these days that they often forget they should have something to say. Then, in one week, he gets kneed in the groin by two of the most vital songs he’s heard in yonks.
The first was The Green Pajamas track ‘The Red, Red Rose’, dedicated to the late Phoebe Prince who died by her own hand in January at only 15 years of age after repeated bullying from her contemporaries. The second is this one, a song called ‘Some Frontier’ by Cleethorpes/ Manchester alliance ORPHAN BOY: a band who have spent the last few years quietly morphing from their self-confessed “Two-Chord Council Pop” scruff stance into one of the best outfits in the UK.
The trio’s recent second album ‘Passion, Pain & Loyalty’ is one of the most affecting and insightful British pop records this writer has heard for many a moon and ‘Some Frontier’ is perhaps its’ highest watermark of all. Basically, it’s an old-fashioned protest song about the way generation after generation prematurely lose their children to whatever hare-brained, but deadly conflict requires an unfeeling government to sacrifice its’ young men in the name of economic progress.
In the press release, Orphan Boy frontman Rob Cross feels the need to deny possible allegations of the track being seen as “jingoistic,” but anyone with any compassion at all will be able to hear that it’s written from a wholly humanitarian point of view. More to the point it’s one of the most moving anti-war diatribes I’ve ever heard and the pain in Cross and Paul Smith’s voices as they deliver lines like “we lost our boy in Sarajevo/ he took his chances with all that’s dear/ we lost our boy in Argentina, in Kandahar...where no-one knows” is all too palpable.
However, despite its’ elegiac leanings, ‘Some Frontier’ still scores as a rousing anthem. Built upon Graham Day’s relentless tribal drums, hooky basslines and ringing guitars, it’s urgent and exciting and it’s no surprise to this writer to hear that it regularly sparks stage invasions at the band’s gigs.
So from one of the year’s finest albums, comes one of the year’s most important singles. In a world full of escapism, ‘Some Frontier’ is a song that really needed to be written, so we should thank some higher power that there are still young men of the calibre of Rob Cross with the guts and belief to make such sentiments count.
Orphan Boy online
Concrete Recordings online