The Long Blondes | 06.13.07

 

longblondesheaderAs band mates Dorian Cox and Emma Chaplin exchanged guitar and keyboard duties throughout their set, black-clad bassist Reenie Hollis stood demurely in the background, her presence no less felt because of it.

 

 

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The Subterranean, Chicago

 

With all the press that's been slathered upon post-alterna-teen acts like The Subways and Arctic Monkeys and pop divas like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, it seems as if The Long Blondes are getting lost in the shuffle somewhere amongst all the other British imports that have arrived over the last few years, which is surprising considering they won 2006's coveted NME Award. With the domestic release of their full-length debut, Someone To Drive You Home, finally hitting stores this month, it seems as if fans on this side of the pond are finally going to receive a quintessentially modern British experience not seen since Pulp's seminal 1995 album A Different Class (which, appropriately enough, was produced by none other than Pulp bassist Steve Mackey).

On the third to final stop on their North American tour, The Long Blondes played the appropriately decadent Subterranean and one look into the crowd made it clear that lead singer Kate Jackson was already well on her way to becoming a fashion icon along the lines of Debbie Harry or Twiggy, as the sea of teasingly mod dresses and neckerchiefs adorning their multitude of female fans confirmed. Opening with the kinetic "Lust In The Movies," Jackson was a vixen in a slim-fitting red dress, dancing impossibly in a pair of equally chic pumps.

As the night drew on, the appeal of the band became more and more evident through their playfully sophisticated sexuality, cheeky attitude and sultry energy. As band mates Dorian Cox and Emma Chaplin exchanged guitar and keyboard duties throughout their set, black-clad bassist Reenie Hollis stood demurely in the background, her presence no less felt because of it.

 

Whether it was the smoldering desperation of "Only Lovers left Alive" or the vogue fable "Heaven Help The New Girl," it was Jackson's exuberant demeanor and surprising vocal range that stood out the most, especially on bouncy party cuts like "Separated By Motorways" and "You Could Have Both." Deep and husky one moment and sassy and mischievous the next, even Broadway-style camp wasn't beyond Jackson's scope.

The two highlights of the evening had to be the Gang Of Four-injected-with-a-healthy-does-of-womanly-appeal dance cut, "Giddy Stratospheres" and the beat-heavy, synth-driven, mirror ball-ready, b-side, "Five Ways To End It," neither of which came until practically the very end.

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So while other UK artists have decided the best way to take over the U.S. is to storm our shores in a flurry of press and media hype, The Long Blondes have chosen a subtler plan of attack, sneaking in through the back door and seducing it's unsuspecting citizens one by one until we wouldn't even know we've been conquered yet. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, if this five-piece from Sheffield were an invading army, we wouldn't stand a chance. | Dean Ramos

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