The Number Ones// The Number Ones
Recommended Track: Sixteen
Ireland, 1977. Jack Lynch has been elected head of state, the IRA’s been here and there in the North, the Clash were threatened out of a Belfast gig, and the first Irish punk festival was held in Belfield a couple of months ago. There I was in the thick of it all, walking down Thomas on a warm Sunday afternoon in Dublin. I decided to visit the trusty record shop before heading over to the Baggot Inn to cover a four o’ clock Radiators show for Hot Press. Walking through the door, Fergus the record clerk motioned me over to his mess of a desk that had been stacked with various musical artifacts. “Danny boy!” he exclaimed. “I’ve got this odd little pressing in. A Dublin band calling themselves the Number Ones. It’s yours, on the house.” I examined the four blokes on the cover. “Look’s like an alright bunch.” That evening, I decided to skip out on the Baggot deal and take it easy at my Ballybough apartment. Putting the #1s for a spin on the turntable, I fixed myself a cup of coffee, had a smoke, and eased into my reclining chair.
Opening with “I Wish I Was Lonely”, the Number Ones are quick to establish themselves as a competent, spirited rock group with capably catchy pop melodies. The record moves along with the teenage anthem “Sixteen”, presenting a faster, livelier beat that grabs influence from punk groups like the Victims and the Kids. “Heartsmash” and “Boy” continue clinging to the youthful chronicles of falling for pretty girls and the inescapable feeling of heart sickness, where it becomes plainly apparent that the entire album has been crafted as a romantic and sappy roller-coaster. The pace slows down around the middle of the album for “Girl”, a sentimental number revealing the more delicate side of the Number Ones. Closing out the album is “Tell Me Why”, in which the lyrics are painfully depressing: “If you go home with him tonight, I wanna die.” But the melody keeps the track from being an emotional breakdown. As the needle lifted off the record, the neighbor’s television came muffled through the wall. Dublin beat Armagh in the All-Ireland Football Championship.
The next morning I returned to the Thomas St. record shop. “They’re alright,” I told Fergus. “I liked ‘em,” he said. “Odd though, the record was given to me yesterday by some strangely dressed Canadians. Along with the album they left me this cryptic note.” Fergus unfolded a small piece of paper. There were words that had been carefully typed, too precise for a typewriter: “Look for the release of the Number Ones’ self-titled album on August 5th, 2014 from Deranged Records.”