The Law of the Playground is a pretty close approximation as to how it would sound.
Al Fox 2009-03-03
Just as MGMT's music lodged itself firmly in the public consciousness long before anyone knew their name, The Boy Least Likely To's unique brand of cheerful toetappery has, courtesy of numerous soundtracks and adverts, covertly been creeping its way into the minds of the nation since as far back as 2003. And as the Wendover duo return with their second album The Law of the Playground, it may well be their time to step fully into the limelight.
Seamlessly picking up where debut The Best Party Ever left off, this truly is music to illuminate the wintry black hearts of even the most contemptuous of critics. The marriage of novel compositions and unashamed cuteness is very much still alive, and if possible, boasting even more of an endearingly human quality than before.
With previous calling-card anthem Be Gentle With Me now synonymous with any number of products, it's fortunate that The Law Of The Playground comes equipped with a mezze of potential successors, one likely contender being the polite middle-finger anthem of Every Goliath Has Its David. Even its roundabout reference to Scrappy Doo – the worst idea in the history of animation – can't detract from the buoyancy and charm on display. And frankly, when something that extraneous provides the most negative facet of an album, it's safe to say you're onto a winner.
The candyfloss country of opener Saddle Up sets the tone for a jovial, optimistic hoedown through 12 further bursts of delightfully zany yet refreshingly sincere indie-pop. A blend of Bakersfield sensibilities and quaint Englishness, it's hard to imagine another artist even attempting to emulate a sound so unique.
That's not to say The Law Of The Playground stops at functioning as a day-glo merry-go-round. Hidden not too discreetly beneath the initial demonstrations of bijou delight lies a depth and a darkness in the form of Jof Owen's childhood tales, recounted with a mix of candour and innocence.
And yet, these occasional forays into bleaker subject matter inadvertently reveal an admirable resilience – this pooled with the fact that they're swathed in Pete Hobbs' uplifting, pop-heavy milieu also gives the listener the option to simply enjoy The Law Of The Playground for what it is on the surface.
Whichever way you choose to understand it, there's no contesting the quality and the pluckiness presented here. And while The Boy Least Likely To may be far too saccharine for many an aural palate, it's hard to imagine their music not raising an involuntary smile in even the most aloof individual. If sunshine could be converted into MP3 format, The Law of the Playground is a pretty close approximation as to how it would sound.