Long Blondes | Someone to Drive Me Home (Rough Trade)

longblondesThe Long Blondes are a modern-day band. They release songs as they create them. It doesn't matter if you listen to them out of order.

 

cd_long_blondesThe long-awaited Long Blondes album is here. Fans who have tracked the five EPs released in the past 20 months will have familiarity with at least six tunes, while six exclusive Someone to Drive You Home tracks make up the other half of the album. Although this release in some ways is a compilation of the young band's work, the unknown tracks are more than just filler and help boost this Rough Trade release.

Kate Jackson, lead vocalist for the Sheffield five-piece, capsulizes the essence of the Long Blondes in one of the album highlights, "Heaven Help the New Girl." This song is the slowest on the album and is an ode to girls who date the same type of guys as Jackson. The song is symmetrical, beginning and ending with a soft, wistful performance that is connected by Dorian Cox's bouncy, Franz Ferdinand-like guitar playing.

"Heaven Help the New Girl" is dated by the reference to track two, "Once and Never Again," with a dramatic buildup on "Because you'll never be 19 again/and I thought I told you before you don't need a boyfriend." Boyfriends of Jackson must be cautious, one mess-up and you can bet that a song will be written about it. However, if you are a mere fan, you have nothing to worry about; it just means another great song.

"Giddy Stratospheres" is one of those great songs. It's the Long Blondes' best song and the centerpiece to the disc. All the band's tricks are compressed into the exhilarating, multi-layered five minutes. There is a beautiful call-and-response element between the instrumentation and the shared vocal effort from both Kate and Emma that makes this song as detailed as their English brothers, the Futureheads.

Screech Louder (his real name, I'm sure) is true to the throwback sound while subtly dictating the ever-changing pace. His performance on "Once and Never Again" is his strongest as he harmonizes with the bass and guitar and alternates parts with Kate on the chorus. By the end of the album, nearly 45 minutes later, Jackson has got to be out of breath. The only break she has is in conversation with a male vocalist (Cox, I believe) in the middle of "You Could Have Both."

Like Voxtrot, the Long Blondes are a modern-day band. They release songs as they create them. They compile good-sounding songs and aren't out to make some big point. The tracks are arranged thoughtfully and have a certain amount of flow, but it doesn't matter if you listen to them out of order. The songs are meant to be thrown onto an iPod. The Long Blondes draw a lot of comparisons to the Pipettes (another impressive, catchy, female-based group) but win the battle because of their lyrical depth.

The amount of English expressions, best illustrated by Pete Doherty and Carl Barât of the Libertines, allows a story to be summed up in an economical fashion. The Long Blondes are no different; fans cannot help but sing the infectious chorus from "Weekend Without Makeup" of, "There are wants and there are needs/ and they're two very different things/ you can love or be in love, again/ they're two very different things."

For those just catching on to the young band, for appreciators of quality pop songs, for fans of the matriarchal European bands, or for people interested in good new music, this is a wise choice. Someone to Drive You Home makes a late case for album of the year and adds a warm, lighthearted feel to the winter season. A | Joe O'Fallon

RIYL: Voxtrot, The Pipettes, The Libertines

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