review archive

The Lodger – Grown-Ups (Angular Recording Corporation)

The Lodger’s album makes me feel far from grown-up as it races through a set of songs that echo the effervescent jangling guitars and heart-stealing indie pop of my youth, kick-starting tiny aural memories. It sounds like sun glancing from wet streets, raindrops dripping from sodden trees, sitting upside down on the settee and making pictures out of patterns in the wallpaper ‘cos there’s nothing else to do.

The first time I heard The Lodger, I decided the thing I liked best about the band was singer Ben’s boyish, Terry Hall-esque voice. It has that taint of bitterness and vicious air of defiance in defeat that Hall always leant to proceedings. ‘Getting Special’ is very Colourfield (Mr Hall’s post-Funboy 3 ensemble) - elegantly crafted pop that’s shimmering with vague desperation; charmingly dour, twisty of tune. Plus, round our way, ‘Getting Special’ refers to the act of vodka-ing up your innocent bottle of coke, something dear to my heart. The album is also bursting with lump-in-throat swoony moments, like the epic ‘Bye Bye’ or the way ‘Unsatisfied’ twirls you off your feet as it loops into a big orchestral sweep of a chorus. ‘A Free Period’ digs little thorns of melancholy under your skin, but then makes your insides swoop by rollercoasting through the chorus, swelling and swerving deliciously. But don’t get too soggy eyed, these guitars are being jangled with gritted teeth. Pay attention to the serrated lyrics. ‘You Got Me Wrong’ trills along in a carefree manner, whilst Ben sings breezily “Farewell to the world”. Album opener ‘Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion’ kicks things off with the words “Gimme a future that looks really bleak”, continuing acidly “this is a lesson in dragging you down”, only it isn’t really, thanks to the ferociously jaunty tunes that find melody in the melodrama.

And if all that yearning and glowering gets too much, lose yourself in the unashamed sprightly pop!ness of it all. ‘Kicking Sand’ and ‘You Got Me Wrong’ are reminiscent of the energetically twinkly pure guitar pop of The Housemartins or maybe The Lightning Seeds, only not annoying. ‘My Advice Is On Loan’ reminds me of when John Peel used to play The Bhundu Boys right before a track by indie boys with guitars; liquid sun-filled rhythms versus mood-swinging strumming.

If you missed out on The Lodger’s three singles to date (and you really shouldn’t have), here they are neatly parcelled up for your delectation; with a special mention due to the achingly fired up, gulping frustration of ‘Let Her Go’ and the catch-in-the-throat tumble of ‘Not So Fast’.

The Lodger write endearing, heart-cracking, so simple that they’re complicated tunes riddled with longing and loathing. They’ll, erm, lodge in your brain and sneak out ticklishly at unexpected times of the day so that you’ll need to run home to stick ‘Grown Ups’ on again to scratch that pop itch.

[back to record reviews]