ORLANDO - "PASSIVE SOUL" (WEA)
New Musical Express, September 1996
as penned by Paul Moody.

PHEW. WE knew Orlando cared (y'know: friends finding them inconsolable at a mediocre review in the Strathclyde Echo; suicidal at a bad reflection in a shop window) but not this much. Are these the same giddy, high-minded fops who polarised opinion during the heady winter of romo by mixing up the question of genetics with the best application of eye-liner?

Of course it is. From the opening seconds - an absurd tinkle of 'The Red Flag' - you know you're in the company of the finest of bedroom mirror dreamers, acutely aware they've been given the chance to make the album their adolescence dreamed of, and determined to squeeze every last drop of their obsessions into it.

So we get Dexys-patented stroppiness in 'Furthest Point Away' ("I'm as happy to steal from your stores and your laws and your company whores"), Soft Cell torchsong heartbreak in 'Save Yourself', stroppy letters from their house masters(!) on the sleeve and Timothy singing like a cross between David McAlmont and a 'Different Corner'-period George Michael disguised as one of those Camden waifs you see trudging around the market. Sigh. If only Jake Shillingford sounded half as distraught as Tim does throughout 'Passive Soul'. If only dismal boy bands with aspirations to teenage Pulpery, like Catch, were an eighth as lovestruck. If only any of them believed in pop as much as they believe in themselves.

Be assured then: on the strength of 'Passive Soul' Orlando sound nothing like their avowed heroes Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Burt Bacharach. However, they are that rarest of bands, acutely aware of their own final destination with disillusion but still too in love with the stars staring down at them from the walls of their youth to care. Daring? Phil Oakey would be proud of them.

8/10


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