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Bright Idea

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Album Review

Like Scissor Sisters and Kings of Leon, Californian five-piece Orson were far more successful across the pond than they were in their homeland, scoring a number one with both their debut single and their album in the U.K. at the same time that they were struggling to even get a record deal in their native America. Recorded on a shoestring budget of just $5000.00 with producer Noah Shain, it's not hard to see why British audiences might have taken Bright Idea to heart more than their transatlantic cousins, such is its obvious debt to the early-'80s rock & roll of the Rolling Stones, the new wave of the Police, and the stadium-sized power pop of Robbie Williams. Indeed, apart from the turgid Bon Jovi-esque MOR of "Already Over," a more quintessentially British-sounding pop/rock album you're not likely to find. It's an homage which works wonders on the likes of chart-topping lead single "No Tomorrow," which opens with hypnotic pounding beats, spiky guitars, and a flurry of swirling electro synths that threaten to burst into a club-friendly floor filler before settling for a stab at the kind of Anglicised garage rock of the Killers' first album; "Last Night," which combines Franz Ferdinand-esque guitars, falsetto vocals, and a nagging bassline to create a groove-laden indie disco anthem; and "So Ahead of Me," which evokes the pogo-inducing ska of the Specials. But less so on "Look Around" a piano-driven tale of heartbreak which is only saved from its corny power ballad tendencies by its anthemic, Snow Patrol-esque final minute, and "Happiness," which borrows the luscious intro from Super Furry Animals' "Juxtaposed with U" and the guitar hook from the Stones' "Start Me Up," but unfortunately surrounds them with a pub rock sound that even the Stereophonics might think was a bit too plodding. Packed with sunny melodies, infectious hooks, and an unashamed sense of camp which makes Mika seem shy and retiring, it's a no-brainer why trilby hat-wearing frontman Jason Pebworth has since gone onto become an in-demand songwriter for the likes of Sugababes and Jessie J. But while Orson might fancy himself the next Mick Jagger, Bright Idea is just a little too derivative to be considered anything other than an over-familiar and disposable attempt at stadium rock. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi


Formed: London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Alternative pop quintet Orson formed in Hollywood in 2000. Co-founders Jason Pebworth (vocals) and George Astasio (guitar) borrowed the name from cinematic icon Orson Welles, and their Tinseltown origins also inspired the band's decision to perform in vintage suits and fedoras. Lead guitarist Chad Rachild, bassist Johnny Lonely, and drummer Chris Cano completed the original lineup, which gigged throughout the Los Angeles area to little notice until the fall of 2005, when Orson self-released their...
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Bright Idea, Orson
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