McFly were Busted friends and affiliates, and refreshed the earlier band’s ailing formula with sixties pixie dust – chanted do-do-doo harmonies and a sunshine disposition conjuring a spirit of Monkee business. But their retro aesthetic isn’t just designed to evoke teenage good times – there’s a hint of classicism in there too. McFly were boys, and they were a band, but they worked to give the impression that those two words’ proximity was just a happy coincidence and instead we were in the presence of Songwriting Talent.

That promise was occasionally kept. McFly’s hits lack the likable crassness of Busted, and mostly lack the energy too. But there’s a crispness to their power-pop borrowings, an easy, confident tunefulness most British bands struggle to access. The gap between McFly and, say, Kaiser Chiefs is social more than it is musical: different fans, different lyrical priorities, but a similar commitment to bouncy guitar pop like the stuff your mum danced to.

Bratty pop-punk moves and sounds made Busted an unusual British proposition; McFly don’t entirely ditch them. The band made “Five Colours In Her Hair” as a bubblegum introduction, but they also made it a second time for the US market, a noisier, snottier version that’s still the one they play live. In the ‘US’ recording they can uncensor themselves, swap out “phone her” for “bone her” and make the song’s sound fit the callous indifference of the lyrics.

“Five Colours” isn’t spiteful in the way “Who’s David?” was, but it’s far from kind to its subject, quickly sketching her journey from – in the singer’s eyes – fuckable eccentric to nameless cast-off, broken by the attention she got for the things that made her unique (and maybe for getting involved with the narrator). Unlike pop-punk and emo’s more gleeful treatment of scorned women, there’s an itch of regret here, something more thoughtful lurking under the scruffy bonhomie, a vague nod towards personhood beyond freaky hair and naked cooking. Maybe even a sense that yes, this girl’s breakdown is a Bad Thing. But that’s not what the record’s about, and we play out with another round of do-do-dos, like a musical “oh well”, and the moment passes.

Score: 5

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