2001, I was a teenager living in a suburb of Los Angeles, easing my way
out of a pop-punk phase but still a fan of bands such as Sum 41, Green
Day and Weezer. Which means I have something in common with the boys of
New to Hellcat as of February 2005, members of Orange were born at the
tail end of the 1980s, making them young enough to be the illegitimate
children of Hellcat’s older musicians (have you seen some of
the recent news headlines?). Of course, age shouldn’t play a large role
in music, because either a band is good or it’s not. And in a case like
this, the band is strong enough to hold its own within its current
league of new punk bands. Still, age can’t be discounted completely,
because it’s the sole factor in many of the band’s flaws. But it also
keeps the record fresh, and it means they’ll have time to get it right.
of the band’s members guitarist Jack Berglund and vocalist/bassist
Joe Denman were born in England and raised in Hollywood, and while
the Brit factor can’t really explain Berglund’s affinity for lipstick
(which complements his braces well, by the way), it certainly gives
Denman a vocal advantage that works to separate Orange from other bands
in its genre. The band’s
too-polished-to-be-genuine-but-entertaining-enough brand of Oi! has
likely progressed since Denman and now-guitarist Mike Valentine began
as a pair of bassists in 2001. Even so, with new punk bands holding
down a reputation as to put it lightly schmaltzy crap, Orange is
different not only because of the members’ youth, but also by Denman’s
charming, swaggering voice, which sounds strangely identical to that of
the Libertines’ Carl Barat.
there’s something to be said for experience’s influence on lyrics.
Within this group of eleven brief tracks, little stands out except for
their lyrical absurdity, the most churlish of which are found on “Cool
Mexicans.” Painfully literal, sure. But lines such as “You know Lord
loves a Mexicanpitch black hair/ they don’t care/ platinum teeth/
white underwear” merely add to the awkward charm of the band.
can forgive the band’s anthem “Orange” due to its having been written
when Denman was thirteen (it asks “How come nothing rhymes with
‘orange?” and was the band’s first original song amid an initial period
of covers), but it’s quite easy to tire of all the excessive middle
fingers that get thrown about. But really, isn’t a seventeen-year old
more likely to add “Fuck off and die, you motherfucking piece of shit”
(“Forgive and Forget”) to a song than his elder counterpart? One would
hope, anyway. Give them a few years to lose the faux attitude and Hot
Topic attire, and we just might have a catch on our hands.