There’s a bitter, sick-hearted compulsion towards self-destruction in the best of us. If you really, really thought that there were monsters under your bed, I’ll bet you wouldn’t be able to help looking. Monsters that could tear your feeble body in half; You’d want to know for sure. You could never just leave it alone – even if meant kneeling on your hands and knees prone and desperately vulnerable.
Yeah, well, I’d do it, I’m certain. And I remember that episode of The Dungeons and Dragons Show where there weren’t just monsters under the bed, rather a portal to a dimension of unimaginable torture. And, one after another, the children followed each other. Some show that was, utterly, fantastically exciting – albeit intensely frightening.
Thing is, if we can watch someone else submitting to the dark places of the human heart – succumbing to emotional annihilation – it’s still hugely powerful. Some of the most intense pleasure to be drawn from this impressive demo is of precisely that sort of voyeuristic quality.
The most yearning, desperate song here is the last of the four, 'El Potential'. A stark, funereal shuffle many miles away from the light, replete with a droning, morose backdrop. 'No-one sees me wandering far from home', vocalist Ollie Birtill intones, utterly desolate. And then, after three minutes, the whole thing is torn apart. Trembling, anxious punches of guitar break through, like, say, those towards the end of 'Don, Aman' by Slint. Which are pure self-destruction made manifest. And Birtill just becomes Ian Curtis, worn baritone and all. It’s superbly energising, and a reminder, even, of how emotionally diluted other similar bands such as Mogwai and Tortoise so often are when held up against the light.
Of the remaining songs, 'Walking on Water' is the best. In part it’s the slow, sorry defiance of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and in part 'Let Down' by Radiohead. And, really, it’s all perfectly commendable, except for a few desperately underwritten lyrics. With lines such as: 'Take me to your highest mountain / Take me to your deepest ocean', there’s simply a sorry lack of detail, distinction and value.
In such expansive company, the second song, 'Fantasise' is a slight surprise. It blisters around town like an early Pastels effort; it wouldn’t be even be out of place as cast-off from the Felt back-catalogue. It’s probably short of a really good hook, but if you’re the kind of girl who goes out in gingham – or a boy who goes for girls like that – then maybe you’ll still be wetting yourself with excitement in the middle of the dancefloor. Whilst you keep on dancing badly.
Perhaps then, there’s still some indecision as to where to take the band. And, certainly, the title of this demo suggests another, altogether more optimistic act than any of the songs here do. A band that might win for once. It’s hard to know how all these elements offered here could cohesively co-exist on a commercial release, although it’s not absolutely unimaginable that they could be resolved to one another. If nothing else, Ormondroyd are conceivably talented enough to go in any one of a number of directions. But here's hoping they chose the dark side.
8Mark Taylor's Score