Tuesday 10 December 2013

Bubblegum Lemonade - Some Like It Pop

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

Releasing an album that's short on surprises isn't often seen as a bonus, more a lack imagination or ideas, or worse still, a retread of what the band in question has done before. This third full-length from Lawrence McClusky's Bubblegum Lemonade project doesn't offer much that you won't have heard from previous records, including those by his other band, Strawberry Whiplash. In this instance, this familiarity is a blessing, not a curse, as the prolific songwriter never fails to write strong tracks and, as the title suggests, pop melodies are not in short supply; obviously a crucial factor when making music that fits the indiepop bracket. Given the fact that 'Some Like It Pop' was released just a fortnight after Lou Reed's passing, the Velvet Underground-inspired artwork probably wasn't planned as a tribute to a lost legend, it was planned as a nod to a living great and a influence, and has now become more poignant than intended.

Musically, you could take the twinkling opening of first track 'This Is The New Normal' and find a direct lineage back to songs like 'Sunday Morning', but the jangling guitars follow a different path, proving that the usual reference points of The Byrds, Big Star, Flying Nun Records and C86 are as important as the Velvets. Plus there's something distinctly Scottish feeling about adding violin to guitar tunes of this nature, thanks in part to Belle & Sebastian. While we're on the subject of common references, the lovely 'It's Got To be Summer' has a Jesus & Mary Chain feel, minus the feedback overload. All of the above could indicate that this is just another decent indiepop album, and in a way that's true, yet the calibre of songs is what will make you keep returning for repeat helpings, and the lack of filler is also a crucial factor. This is a solid collection, with the only real criticism being that some of the melodies are close to other McClusky compositions, but on the flip side, it shows that there is a definite individuality here, and being able to blindly recognise a band fairly quickly in a scene as crowded as the indiepop world can only be a good thing.

It's difficult not to fall back on chalices such as "honeyed" when describing just how pretty a song like 'Don't Hurry Baby' is, but from the backing vocals to the layers of guitar to (that word again) the melody, that's exactly what this is. The title could be a reference to the similarly perfect pop of The Beach Boys' 'Don't Worry Baby'; they're another influence it's difficult to avoid. 'Dead Poets Make Me Smile' is pure '80s guitar-pop that would probably be considered a classic had it been released in that decade. It's not all sunshine and flowers though; 'First Rule Of Book Club' has a more pensive vibe and 'You Can't Go Back Again' talks about the destruction of someone's past that has "turned to dust", however this is quickly followed by the splendid, dreamy single 'Have You Seen Faith?' which again sparkles like a glitter ball in the bright daylight. Another particularly bright spot is 'Your Valentine (Takes me Back In Time)' which has an extra buzz about it and is perfect single material, oh, and you don't go calling a song 'She Brings The Sunshine' if it's to be downbeat and sorrowful. 'Some Like It Pop' won't change the world, but it will make it seem like a better place for forty minutes or so.

Bubblegum Lemonade's website

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