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The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

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A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

The Long Blondes: 'Couples' Review

Rating: 7/10- A steady album, sadly let down by three songs.

The Long Blondes- Century (Link 2) (Link 3)
The Long Blondes- Guilt (Link 2) (Link 3)

On my first listen of The Long Blondes 'Couples' I actually mouthed some unmentionable things. I absolutely adored 'Someone To Drive You Home', and simply put, this doesn't hit the mark, at least not on its first spin. In the two years between their debut and 'Couples', their music has certainly lost a little of 'STDYH's magic, replaced by a passion for experimentation, and the sweet taste of progression. This isn't a failure by any means, but it also isn't the follow up we were expecting.

In short, they've attempted to go punk (truly, this time around). Simply put, their music is no longer punk (more a blend of electro-indie), nor is their image (updated from berets and striped tights to civvies), but their delivery most certainly is: even now, they're still learning to play their instruments, but there are clear signs of advancement, musically... when the band formed, Screech, the drummer, didn't even own a set or know the difference between a high hat and a snare. And don't even get me onto Emma Chaplin- their live shows are shambolic because Dorian is playing both lead and rhythm!

I really wanted this album to be superior to their debut. The outlook was promising: 'Century' is a song that just sits in the back of your head, invading your space with its wonky guitars and harmonies. If I had to take a single positive from this album, it would be the obvious improvement of Kate Jackson's vocals- her progress is easy to see on the single. Next came 'Guilt', probably the stand-out, which also happens to be a demo from their early days. It's an obvious choice for their next single. Another high point comes quickly in the form of the title track. But then disaster strikes. Three songs, all of which are... well, shit... They lose all the momentum gained over the first three tracks, and its as if 'Couples' never got going.

Exhibit A- 'I Liked The Boys'- jarring is an apt description. Exhibit B- 'Here Comes The Serious Bit'- Kate has a great voice. Occasionally it goes wrong... imagine that flat note at the end of 'Heaven Help The New Girl', extended over an entire song. And finally, Exhibit C- 'Round The Hairpin'- This has so much potential, but is painfully underdeveloped. And so ends the trifecta.

The band do some serious groundwork over the next few tracks, making up for lost momentum. 'Too Clever By Half' sees Jackson adopt a pitch perfect falsetto, then 'Nostalgia', which I found strangely emotional. The finale, 'I'm Going To Hell', is a dramatic affair, with Jackson proclaiming 'I'm going to hell so I might as well make it worth my while.' All things accounted for, the album ends on a high, but I couldn't forget those three songs. I've returned time and time again (I've had this album for 3 weeks now), but they still don't sit well with me.

'Couples' is a very difficult album; one of the hardest I've come across, and this isn't going to work in their favour. I didn't truly appreciate half the songs until at least 6 or 7 listens, which is a real downer; however, they do take on depth with time. After repeated listenings, it transforms into a solid album, but it is this initially steep gradient which may be 'Couples' undoing, commercially at least.

'Someone To Drive You Home' really delivered, and still holds a place as one of my favourite debuts of all time. It had that lyrical punch and could soundtrack any situation: you could focus on it, or just let the songs slip past. 'Couples', whilst occasionally superior, is an album that requires your utmost attention at all times, and is let down by the presence of three rubbish songs. I really wanted to love it, and the signs led me to believe I would: Erol Alkan's pre-album mixes were great ('Fulwood Babylon' is amazing), but his impact on this album has been detrimental. I'm not quite sure why, either, given he also produced Mystery Jets '21', which is excellent, and an expansion of their sound. On 'Couples', though, his usually stellar work is lacking, and the album occasionally suffers.

Still, taking into account the highs and the lows, this isn't a trainwreck of a second album. The Long Blondes have shown their hand: progression and experimentation are serious factors in their future. All in all, 'Couples' is a nice album to keep us tied over until they do something truly groundbreaking, and live up the hype.

'Couples' can be purchased here

4 comments:

  1. James Miller said...
     

    I saw them live last night and they were great. Plus Kate was wearing the tiniest pair of shorts, along with a STRIPED top and a BERET.

    wow that image change is massive...

  2. Will said...
     

    Point taken. Still, what do you think of the album?

  3. liveon35mm.com said...
     

    Nice review, they are an amazing live band see Long Blondes exclusive live-on-stage photos with Kate Jackson in full B&W splendour only on liveon35mm.com

  4. 慢慢來 said...
     

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