Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Add Your Light To Mine Baby

With the amount of new music I’m inundated with daily, it’s rare that something jumps out and grabs me by the ears at first listen – even rarer is when it turns out to be more than a brief infatuation and instead turns my musical world around. The Great Unwanted, the debut record from London’s Lucky Soul, has done just that.

You may recall my mentioning it a couple weeks ago and having been smitten by a couple of their singles via YouTube video. Well immediately thereafter I grabbed their four singles from eMusic and when those proved only to whet my appetite rather than satiate, I snagged the album at a rather dear price via eBay (CDWow didn’t have it yet) and you know what? Worth every penny, even though six of the album’s thirteen (fourteen if you count the hidden track) songs were on the aforementioned singles (making for three proper b-sides).

The six-piece outfit create, or more rather re-create, a retro yet timeless style of pop that draws on doo-wop, Motown, classic soul, Spector, Bacharach… basically everything good in the world. The band ably weaves the necessary musical tapestry, lush with horns and strings atop the requisite guitar, bass, drums and keys but it falls on singer Ali Howard to sell it and that she does. Oh does she ever. Besides the fact that she looks like you’d expect/hope she would, her voice is sweet, girlish and ebullient, yet capable of conveying sadness, regret and experience with heartbreak in the manner of the best soul singers. It looks, sounds and tastes like pure musical sugar but there’s a tinge of bitter to the sweet that makes it that much more addictive – believe me when I say that there’s far more than empty calories here. I’ve been living off it for days. And it doesn’t matter how many times you hear it, when Ali commands you to “shake, shake, shimmy”, by god you shake and shimmy.

But look at me, trying to convince you that there’s more to this record than just pop perfection. Fact is, even if it wasn’t a great album, even if their best stuff all went into the singles, Lucky Soul would still be getting my highest endorsement because the singles are just that good. So so so so good. And that they’re able to fill out a full-length album with material that’s just doesn’t let those stratospheric peaks down – on their debut no less – is unbelievable. This record is my happy place. It’s self-released on the band’s own Ruffa Lane label so who knows if it or the band will ever make it over to this continent? In the case of the record, CDWow is probably by far the best price you’re going to find so just go and buy it. In the case of the band… someone fly them over here. I’ll pay for some of it. I’m serious. Unless it’s really expensive, in which case you have my unwavering moral support.

Skatterbrain has a short interview with Ali while The Guardian also talked to guitarist Andrew Laidlaw in a piece about how the sound of new UK music sounds so much like old UK music. How Does It Feel? met with both Howard and Laidlaw for a drink at the pub and transcribed the whole thing. The band kept a blog during the three months of recording the album late last year and there’s also a couple of acoustic tracks available to download off their website.

Go buy this record.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “The Great Unwanted”
Video: Lucky Soul – “Lips Are Unhappy” (YouTube)
Video: Lucky Soul – “My Brittle Heart” (YouTube)
Video: Lucky Soul – “Add Your Light To Mine, Baby” (YouTube)
MySpace: Lucky Soul

The Pipettes, who may share some influences and style with Lucky Soul but from what little of their stuff I’ve heard can’t hold a finger to them, are returning to Toronto on June 1 for a show at Lee’s Palace. A considerably larger venue than the one that couldn’t hold their debacle of a CMW showcase back in March, but probably still won’t be big enough. Pitchfork has full North American tour dates and a couple of domestic record release dates – the Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me EP is out June 5 and the We Are Pipettes full-length is available August 28. This Is Nottingham talks to Rose of the Pipettes. I’m not sure which one she is – the one in the short dress?

And from polka dots to stripes, NME has Summer tour dates for The White Stripes. Following a jaunt across the Canadian tundra (check out dates in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) they’ll be in Toronto on July 5 at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Feist talks to Exclaim! about the long, slow death of Let It Die and The Reminder, in stores Tuesday.

Filter, Stylus and Drowned In Sound score interview time with Bjork. Volta hits May 8 and she’s at V Fest in Toronto September 8.

Also on that first day of V Fest are Interpol, who have finally confirmed details of their third album. Pitchfork reports that Our Love To Admire will be in stores on July 10.

The Weakerthans discuss their next album, at one time titled Civil Twilight (though that’s not being mentioned anymore) and due out in October, with The Winnipeg Sun. Can’t wait, been far too long.

By : Frank Yang at 8:28 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post12 Responses.
  1. Dan says:

    Thanks for the tip. I downloaded that song and checked out their myspace. Really good stuff, I’ll have to get the CD.

  2. Matthew says:

    That’s the first time I’ve been grabbed by them – cheers. And The Pipettes truly are weak.

  3. manux says:

    The Great Unwanted ? Yes I love bowie too

  4. Karl says:

    I’ll thank you here for the tip on Lucky Soul (as i did elsewhere). I do think you’re being a little hard on the Pipettes, though. I would say they have put themselves between a rock and a hard place. They are candidly calculating, which will rub a lot of indie folks the wrong way — yet their sound is probably too far from the mainstream to make it big in North America. In a strange way analogous to the latter Monkees, after the band members got more control over their output.

  5. Frank says:

    yeah, the openly contrivedness of The Pipettes does rub me a bit the wrong way but if I was going to be on the continent when they were in town, I’d certainly go see them. But after listening to the Lucky Soul album and then going directly to the video for "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me", there was just no comparison. Lucky Soul were/are/is so much better.

  6. Dan says:

    I just realized that their album is on itunes. 10 bucks to have it right now, I’m all for it. I can live without a concrete copy these days.

  7. Tug says:

    New Weakerthans! Hip. Hip. Hooray!

  8. Mike says:

    I personally find the Lucky Soul sound is what No Doubt was to 90s mallpunk (she sounds too much like Madonna, for cripes’ sake). The Pipettes are a lot like the Archies/Monkees (and we know that going in), but I admire their attention to that particular 60s detail they so emulate.

  9. Matthew says:

    The worst thing about the Pipettes is that, unlike crooners like Richard Hawley and the like, they don’t ever seem to <i>do</i> anything with the sound they like so much other than faithfully reproduce it. What’s the point.

    Sorry, I realise this is supposed to be a post about Lucky Soul.


  10. Matthew says:

    Damn the lack of html!

  11. Roland says:

    …WOW! Frank, you’re the ultimate tastemakers, many thanks for the introduction.

  12. LPC says:

    That’s really good stuff… I’ll have to get some more. Thanks for the tip. Cheers.