Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Lodger Reviewed On Drowned In Sound

Some records are a barrage of sound and fury, bulldozing the listener into submission; others inveigle their way into our affections through more subtle means. Grown Ups, the debut from Leeds-based The Lodger, belongs firmly in this latter category. Evoking the spirit of Belle and Sebastian, The Sundays and, hallowed-be-thy-name, The Smiths, The Lodger inhabit that peculiarly British world of bedsit indie. They admit as much on ‘My Advice Is On Loan’, boldly declaring: “I live in a bedsit like I have no shame”. Certainly, listening to Grown Ups, it is easy to imagine these three sallow-faced youths ensconced in that bedsit, poetic melancholy wrapped tightly around them as they create their doe-eyed, heart-strafing music.

The songs are tender, thoughtful and depicted by virtue of a painterly eye for detail and some sparkling wordplay – throughout, The Lodger are in doomed pursuit of an idealized, romantic love. Even when they do get the object of their affections it proves only a temporary reprieve. Unrequited love seems their almost constant state of being. In ‘Simply Left Behind’, they yearn for the girl who “falls in love with all the idiots”. Often such sentiments can sound like so much self-pitying, but when they’re so beautifully rendered you can’t help sympathising. Elsewhere the mood is deceptively upbeat, the sweet jangle-pop camouflaging some particularly lacerating lyrics. In ‘Kicking Sand’, vocalist Ben oh-so-sweetly announces: “Say we’re in the same boat, I’m not in yours / I couldn’t care less about your life, oh no.”

The Lodger certainly have a way with a melody, their music for the wilted generation stirring limbs as much as hearts. There are some lovely choruses, too: ‘Getting Special’ coolly glides between the male and female vocal and assumes a distinctly St Etienne feel, whilst ‘The Story’s Over’ is driven by blessed-out rhythms and bracing guitar. What’s more, tracks are kept concise and to the point, all except the penultimate and ecstatic ‘Bye Bye’ hitting the two- to three-minute mark.

Direct, intimate and almost wholly devoid of cynicism, The Lodger have created a record imbued with a cheering, if curious naivety. Let’s hope they never go growing up. - Francis Jones

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