Five O’Clock Heroes – Different Times

written by: February 8, 2011
Five o'clock - Heroes LP different times album cover Release Date: February 15, 2011


Influences make the band. Every band has them, and, no matter how original said bands music may appear to be, you can always hear those influences peaking out. Be it in a guitar solo, or a melody, there needs to be a balance between said muses and the original ideas that make the band stand out as an individual. Simply said, if one can listen to a band and instantly call it something else, the music loses credo.

Five O’Clock Heroes have had a tough time over the decade working on this balance. Now on its third record, Different Times updates the sound for this band following closely to the era of music they’ve emulated all along. This is a band that has made a career being centered in all of the new wave variations, and this new album is just another version of that. And when laid against the band’s previous albums, it follows right in step along the same path the new wave genre did from the punk inspired beginnings to the heavily produced pop it became.

The rawness of past albums has been laid to rest in exchange for pop that sticks to the clichés. By picking up the production and adding the accents of effects and keyboards they end up sounding like a cover band on many of the tacks. This makes Different Times come across as harmless and offers no real risk as the change in sound recalls bands like The Clash and Gang of Four almost exactly. The easy reggae come ska on “Boys Not Girls” shows this point as Antony Ellis gives us his best Joe Strummer taking the melody right out of Strummers pocket.

This shows the band hasn’t so much as run out of ideas, as they’ve just misplaced them. Misplaced them in the vibrating drums on “Diplomat,” and the overthought vocals. The focus on retro synths throughout the record that don’t add anything and only make it predictable.

Not all is copy-and-pasted new wave, however. It’s fleeting, but tracks like “City of Lights” and “Postcard” positively show a band working on how to stand out. The later gives a slowed down take that’s honest and with a little keyboard becomes one of their best to date.

The ability to craft a worthy hook has been a strong feature for the band all along. In the end, they’re decent at what they do, writing appealing, slightly danceable rock.

While the influences were always apparent with this band, with Different Times they’ve become the only thing that can be heard. Because of this, a level of authenticity is lost and it feels like a plea to be noticed instead of a band making music for the sake of making music. The band is certainly looking to expand their appeal, but in doing so they need to stay true to themselves. While this album may miss that point, there’s still plenty of room to grow from here.