en: Couples (The Long Blondes album) [info]
When I told a colleague that I was reviewing ''Couples'', the follow-up to debut, Someone To Drive You Home, he looked perplexed and asked 'What is the point of the Long Blondes?'. With his bemusement in mind, I read the album blurb with a close eye, searching for an answer to his question. They're 'the illicit thoughts that let a chink of excitement into the ennui of suburban life' (?). Apparently they're also 'the SHOCK of the NEW': So they even transcend upper and lower case letters! Yes, I know record labels tend to submerge their new releases in a murky swamp of hype, but this is too much.
After listening to ''Couples'' (the quotation marks are significant, so the press release informs you) I can safely report back to my colleague that the point of the Long Blondes is to make everyone realise how amazing Blondie were in their prime.
Erol Alkan, uber producer du jour, steps into the frame for this album but even his kudos can't save this. Century, the album opener and first single, sounds like a poor man's Atomic. All five and a half minutes of it. Guilt is slightly more interesting, though Kate Jackson's voice struggles with the high notes. Only by the fifth track, Here Comes the Serious Bit, does the album start to become memorable. Its repetitive, shouty chorus will get shoulders shimmying on a dancefloor.
There's been a fair bit of talk about Round The Hairpin, which is a pretty, swirly, looping tune. Not the easiest listen, but definitely the most interesting while Too Clever By Half is the highlight of an otherwise bleak album. Jackson's vocals attain a certain sexiness, and the song jogs along nicely.
There are, perhaps, some hidden depths, but why bother to search when the blurb already tells you, straight-faced, that ''Couples'' is a 'complete musical and cultural artefact'. I rest my case.