"Teen Dance Ordinance"

1st August 2005
reviewer: Will
rating: 2 out of 5
published by: London Records
released: 25th July 2005
  1. Rush Song
  2. Better Off With Him
  3. The Art Of Making Sense
  4. Someone Else
  5. Die Tonight
  6. 2nd Coming
  7. Wake Up
  8. Black Hole
  9. Hey
  10. Worst Thing That Can Happen
  11. Afterburner
  12. Wisdom

Teen Dance Ordinance marks a bold move away from the chirpy pop-punk of A's youth, towards a more serious metal sound. In making this move, they've lost the two things that set them apart from the rest: a sense of humour, and a keyboard player.

I'm not talking about Blink-182-style knob gags, but a level of wit evident on their first three albums that most chart-bothering metal bands can't seem to muster. Lyrics like “The old folks are losers/They can't work computers” seem a world away. It's to be expected though: A released their first record eight years ago, and most of them are now married with kids.

As for the missing keyboard player: apparently Giles Perry is still in the band, but apart from some bubbly synths on ‘Wisdom’ and a sprinkling of piano on ‘The Art Of Making Sense’ (emo title alert!) you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd packed up and gone home. This is a guitar-only zone, and it lacks a lot of the previous albums' subtlety because of it.

Accordingly Giles' appearances are the best songs on the LP, along with the blacker-than-black ‘Rush Song’, named after the unfashionable Canadian prog-rock dinosaurs A have now come to resemble. Thankfully they haven't inherited Rush's habit of taking their lyrics from crap 70s sci-fi novels, nor their fondness for ten-minute guitar solos.

With all the best tunes marshaled together in the hopes of forming a strong beginning and ending, the middle of the album is pretty forgettable. Jason Perry's lyrics, rather than sounding mature and dark, come off as angsty and teenage. A couple of gentler numbers, ‘Die Tonight’ and ‘Hey’, sound spineless, while the rest of the album suffers from being heavy for heaviness' sake. The admittedly slick production can't lift these songs above being average. It's a real disappointment after the globe-straddling greatness of their previous full-length, Hi-Fi Serious.

There would seem to be dark times ahead for the band, what with Warner's apparent reluctance to market or even release Teen Dance Ordinance; I'd think A very lucky if they weren't dropped from the label pretty soon. If that happens, their tenacious fanbase will no doubt blame Warner for lacking vision or the willingness to do something a little different – but the sad truth is that this album is nowhere near as good as it needed to be.

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