I have no idea how the Birmingham indie scene does it, but even during a once-in-a-century crisis (aka the Covid pandemic), it seems to be thriving. Venues are closed, pubs are empty, Digbeth has been temporarily abandoned, and somehow new music just keeps on flowing like nothing has really happened.
One thing is obvious – in the last 12 months the music coming out of the Second City has undoubtedly changed. It has lost its anger, its post-punk aggressiveness and moved towards pastures very rarely explored. It’s still alternative rock, but more sublime, more philosophical, more experimental. I was lucky to recently review several new singles from a much broader spectrum than usual. New artists started returning to classic rock, blues, folk, college rock, shoegaze and brit pop. The diversity of genres (and an influx of female performers) is really refreshing.
Five O Fives is another West Midlands emerging act bringing back sounds long forgotten. Their new single ‘Something To Do’ is a cross between alternative rock, jangle and dream pop. I’m glad to report that despite looking back towards the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the single is not a nostalgia trip. It has crisp, modern production, a fresh vibe, and luckily for the humble reviewer, doesn’t sound like a souvenir from the times where Berlin Wall was still a thing and Maggie Thatcher lived at number 10 Downing Street.
Fronted by lead singer Alice Bloor, the Birmingham/Coventry based quartet is undoubtedly going to be compared to The Sundays and The Smiths. Such comparisons will not be misplaced. There are obvious (and quite evident) similarities between Alice and Harriet Wheeler and the band truly delights in using distorted treble-heavy electric guitars just like Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke did. Such combo can only work in their favour – the band has only two singles under their belt and they already made their mark on the city’s musical map.
I’m going to be paying a special attention to Five O Fives in 2021. They have talent, determination and enough good ideas to break into the mainstream charts.
Rita Dabrowicz (Vanadian Avenue)