Lucky Soul’s second album A Coming of Age is aptly named, as it’s the
sound of a band growing up, maturing and developing, finding their
feet and standing proud, ready to take on the world.
Sure, the elements which made their 2007 debut The Great Unwanted such
a joy are still very much in place- ’60s girl pop, meets St Etienne,
Stax and Motown – but this time around, songwriter Andrew Laidlaw has
widened his influences and plundered the history of popular music to
create an album that recreates the experience of rooting through – and
listening to – the best record collection in the world ever. I’d love
to nip round his house and check out his CDs and LPs.
So, we’ve got glam-disco, gospel, Southern fried
soul, country-rock, cinematic orchestrations and Smiths-style
melancholy on the menu. There are nods to Blondie, Dexys Midnight
Runners, Carole King, Neil Young, Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell,
Singer Ali Howard’s gorgeous ‘little girl lost vocals’ are now
accompanied by more complex, strident and bigger, bolder arrangements.
Rampant opener Woah Billy! is swathed in sultry Philadelphia strings,
Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere (just how Morrissey is that
title?) sounds like Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had A Heart reworked as a
big soul ballad but via Strangeways Here We Come and Upon Hilly
Fields is a lovely pastoral piece with an After The Goldrush feel.
The opening salvo of Woah! Billy, White Russian Doll and Up In Flames
makes for a powerful three-pronged attack – it’s like listening to a
‘Best of ’60s Soul’ Greatest Hits album; hook-laden killer tracks that
grab you by the throat and demand you shake, shake, shimmy as if your
life depended on it.
Laidlaw has also explored the darker side of life (a dark night of the
Lucky Soul, anyone?) with A Coming Of Age – especially on the title track –
all moody James Bond strings, but with a spiky Johnny
Marr-ish guitar riff. There’s a pervading sense of heartache to
many of the songs – Warm Water and Southern Melancholy are two of the
saddest, yet most swoonsome, tunes I’ve heard in a long time.
If there’s a better pop album than A Coming of Age released this year,
then I’ll eat my (porkpie) hat.