“It’s hard to see much of ‘When I Was A Youngster’ on more than a superficial level”
Digital Release: October 23, 2011
Physical Release: October 24, 2011
In a world where Jedward’s once-thriving popularity is now isolated to their native country, it’s hard to imagine what kind of approach Rizzle Kicks are going for here. The bubblegum/wonky pop genre dried up in 2007, crushing the careers of even already established artists like Scissor Sisters, Mika and The Hoosiers. So all this trumpet-blowing fanfare and socially-inept charm has an almost visible expiration date of about six months, surely? After all, the last big-named artist to venture into this rarely fruitful genre ran back to the studio with his tail between his legs and ended up on Popstar To Operastar, making a laughing stock of the supposedly omnipotent X Factor.
And now we join the musical journey of two plucky young lads from Brighton who, not months ago, were just beginning their big break thanks to a certain Oliver Murs and a cleverly-timed single release of their own. ‘Down With The Trumpets’ was all good clean fun, but it did make one wonder whatever did happen to Mika? You could’ve half expected the man to erupt out of one of the trumpets waving jazz hands and signalling to his choir of rowdy, oppressed school children to join in what, for them, must’ve been great fun. They sounded less like a dynamic duo and more like two slacked-jawed numpties slung together and given the task of becoming the new pioneers of irritating kiddie pop, and with that, also attempt the impossible and bring the whole genre back to life. This dusty coronation of place is hardly something to be frowned upon, but it seems that yet again, the curse of the BRIT School alumni has tainted what was in fact a completely harmless niche; a niche that actually – tissues at the ready for Rizzle Kicks – doesn’t exist anymore. Not to mention that, with not half the skills and musical panache of any of their earlier influences, their regressive longings for youth are merely self-indulgent fantasies. But then again that, sadly, is another trait of the BRIT School finishers; as well as being suspiciously hyped up by established artists, suspiciously signed very quickly, and suspiciously winning countless online polls.
‘When I Was A Youngster’ sees no end to the trumpeters, the clunking guitar stabs or any of the Haribo-charged frivolities as they sing “Back when I was younger/I wanted to be everything on the planet” in a bid to recapture some of their more wide-eyed years. To some extent, they do recall the sound of careless wonky pop, but the fact they try to innovate such a tiny niche with decorations of other genres creates nothing but a cramped pigeon-hole of different genres, resulting in an awkwardly claustrophobic feel. They leave little imagination to their listeners and even less time for them to think about their own pasts, seeing as they’re too busy cramming their practically ecstasy-inducing past into our ear drums that it’s hard to see much of ‘When I Was A Youngster’ on more than a superficial level; they ignore the much harder realisms of being a ‘youngster’; they’re happy enough to loll themselves around a play-park in the music video and play dress up and video games while singing and rapping some nonsense about the trivialities of their not-long-passed youth, but those of us dwelling in the comparatively dull and colourless real world would rather they just shut up and stop being such a pair of romanticising goons.