The Original Rudeboys This Life (Ruby Works)
There's a lot to like about the Original Rudeboys. Smart attitude, cool shirts, Waldorf haircuts and a sort of Bee Gees positivity that cheers up grannies and puts a swagger in the step of scallies everywhere.
It's been a glorious year for the Dublin trio, who first caught our attention with their video of an acoustic jam on a couch. It was obvious this bunch had the requisite ingredients for pop success. If you didn't know better, you might suspect the evil hand of Simon Cowell was manipulating things.
There's Rob Burch, the Barry Gibb of the group, who strums guitar and croaks out melodies like a man who's heard one too many Jack Johnson albums. Presenting as an undernourished George Formby, the geezer who only plucks his ukulele when he knows it's going to make an impact is Sean Walsh. And, rapping with the attack of a drum machine, Sean 'Neddy' Arkins is the group's chirpy chip-shop poet laureate.
On their own, any one would have 'reject' stamped on their arses. But together this collective rocks... gently. And there-in lies massive crossover potential.
A crucial factor in the mix is the ears of Jake Gosling. Having produced Wiley and Ed Sheeran, he allows basic arrangements to breathe while dressing them with mellow beats and instrumentation such as tinkling piano on Complicated and string effects on Bringing Me Down.
Back in the day, rapper Queens' MC Shan memorably advised A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste. In Dublin city, Ireland, the Original Rudeboys are on a similar reality trip.
Like modern-day versions of the 18th-century pictorial satirist Hogarth, they offer commentary on a range of social ills from domestic violence (Blue Eyes) to prostitution (In Too Deep). They also celebrate their own struggle to be heard (Stars In Their Eyes). Sunny Days, a nod to a mate who's brown bread, is most affecting.
On this evidence, they're deservedly through to the next round. HHHII