An upbeat sounding song that reminds you of older brass band/music hall tunes.
The Kinks were big fans of inserting nostalgia into their songs, with lyrics or musical style. Verses and chorus are both a little jazzy; verses are down and sad, choruses are a little angry. the topic of the song is the crippling "dead end" of being working class, or completely on the dole. Songwriter and singer Ray Davis tells a tale of houses with cracks in the ceiling, not enough work to go around, not enough money to pay the bills, and no chance of getting out of the situation. But he and the band strive not to make it depressing. The repeated backup vocal parts are shouted defiantly. The piano and trombone sound like a music hall when they are being upbeat. It's almost uplifting. In other places, the trombone sounds like a funeral dirge.
The book says it's a trumpet playing. Wikipedia and my 20 years of experience playing trombone say it's a trombone. What is interesting is that no note has survived saying who played trombone on the recording. Other interesting tidbits: The bass player is John Dalton, who would become a member of The Kinks in a few years, but for this track was just filling in because regular bass player Pete Quaife had just been in a car accident. Piano duties fell to studio musician Nicky Hopkins. Hopkins spent the sixties playing with every British act you can name: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Move, The Jeff Beck Group; as well as American acts Jefferson Airplane and The Steve Miller Band. Producer Shel Talmy was also well known to the 60's British Rock scene. He recorded The Who and The Kinks extensively. The same week this track was released another track produced by Talmy came out. This one rose to number 5, and right behind it was The Easybeats' Friday on My Mind.