Album Review: The Boy Least Likely To – Law of the Playground

The Buckinghamshire-based country disco band finally returns after four years of absence due to record label woes. When the first track kicks in, those years suddenly seem so short, and this LP feels seamlessly intertwined with their debut. Although the thirteen snappy tracks which populate the two-piece’s album offer innocent melancholy, you get the sneaking suspicion that they had as much fun making the record as you will listening to it.

Their distinctive tunes have an unparalleled sincerity to them, and much like going through your old school books, they can transport you, or at least your ears back to a forgotten time of immature bliss. ‘Box Up All the Butterflies’ is particularly good at this, evoking both musically and lyrically, a ‘bouncy’, Tigger-esque time of fun in an outside world filled with strange creatures.

As with their debut (The Best Party Ever), instruments burst from all corners of the album, and we’re privy to expertly-played banjos, harmonicas and trombones amid tight-nit, yet playful rhythm, guitar and vocals. The songs are still as catchy as ever, and it’s almost painful not to sing along and get wrapped up in their ‘pic n mix’ naivety, with lines such as those in the underdog anthem ‘Every Goliath Has Its David’ – ‘And I know kung fu/And I’m not afraid of you/Cos I might be small/But I’m not a coward/I’ve got puppy powers’.

It’s not all a song and dance though, and this album definitely marks a sign of a more mature and slightly disillusioned TBLLT.  The eerie opening and evil disco banjo of ‘TBLLT Is A Machine’, a cynical, yet honest diatribe against their ex-record label, stands out in particular. Through this song it becomes evident that the band that prides itself on blissful innocence isn’t immune to life’s woes.

Although there are plenty of memorable hooks, none of the tracks are as ‘get under your skin’ catchy as ‘Be Gentle With Me’, their first single, which recently featured on a large TV ad campaign. While the musical style remains similar, the album’s lyrics have also somewhat lost the subtle, yet biting critique of English society, which added an edge to the innocent music of their first LP.

Jof and Peter don’t bring anything amazingly new to the equation with Law of the Playground, but their sophomore attempt is catchy, well structured and full of playfulness. It’s a great shame that since their return, the home of the pic ‘n’ mix they sang about on their first album, Woolworth’s, has met its demise. TBLLT, however, has not, and goes from strength to strength, perfecting their ‘country disco’ style; I don’t think they’ll be shutting down anytime soon. 

Words: Jason Williamson