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Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A Coming Of Age

Review of Lucky Soul’s A Coming Of Age

Photo via Lucky SoulLucky SoulHere’s a little bit of trivia for you. Of the 66 artists who’ve either placed in my year-end lists since I began recording them in 2003 or made my “favourite records of the past seven years” list, 18 of them have or are about to release new records this year, eight more were due to put one out this year, eight have put out solo records or collaborations and five more are currently in the studio. Which is to say that if past history is any indicator, 2010 is going to be an exceptional year for music.

While it’s presumptuous to assume that many or even any of those acts will be making repeat appearances on any list of this year’s favourites, one follow-up that’s pretty much a shoo-in is A Coming Of Age, the sophomore effort from London’s Lucky Soul. Their 2007 debut The Great Unwanted was and remains one of my favourite releases of this century, a pretty much perfect collection of classically-styled, throwback pop built on Andrew Laidlaw’s songwriting and Ali Howard’s sun-kissed vocals. So while I was clearly going to be favourably inclined towards the follow-up, it also had some huge footsteps to follow in – footsteps which it uses not so much as a starting line but a launching pad.

It was already clear from the new material previewed when I went to see Lucky Soul make their live US debut in October 2008 that the band had ambitions beyond the northern soul/girl-group vibe that they had pretty much perfected their first time out, but I was still more than surprised by the range of influences that come into play on A Coming Of Age. There are the disco inflections of the irresistible leadoff track, “Whoa Billy!”, the ’80s indie jangle of “White Russian Doll”, the classic Motown stylings of “Love 3”, the light country twang of “Upon Hilly Fields”… and that’s just the first third of the record. Of course, such ranginess wouldn’t be something to laud if they weren’t able to pull it all off but they certainly do, all without losing any of their own distinct personality – quite the opposite, in fact.

The more they push outwards from what The Great Unwanted defined Lucky Soul as, the more they prove they’re so much more than what that implied. It certainly reinforces their ability to craft a pop hook for the ages, and addition to the greater blend of styles, the material also covers a greater emotional spectrum. The charming girlishness of Ali Howard’s presence, which so perfectly captured the spirit of their debut, has matured and grown more experienced on the follow-up with Howard’s stronger voice proving up to the task of expressing those emotions. The best examples of what Lucky Soul are capable of now come at what would logically be the final tracks of sides A and B – the title track and “Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere” – both of which ride sweeping string sections to dramatic effect but stay just on the right side of tasteful, evoking grandeur rather than excess. The latter, in particular, deftly runs the gamut from daydreamy wistfulness to swirling tumult so naturally, you don’t even notice the storm clouds gather until they’re upon you and it does it in under three-and-a-half minutes, providing a remarkable finale to a remarkable record from a most remarkable band.

Lucky Soul have just released a new puppet-powered video for “Whoa Billy!” which was written, shot, edited entirely by the band. A Coming Of Age is out next Monday in the UK, with no domestic release at the moment but amazon.ca and amazon.com both have it listed as imports. The Von Pip Musical Express talks to songwriter Andrew Laidlaw, who has also taken to the band’s blog to annotate a song from the new record each day over the next twelve days or so. Touring over here is probably far too much to hope for, but if they manage to make it over here for a date or two again, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be there.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “A Coming Of Age”
MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy!”
Video: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy!”
Video: Lucky Soul – “White Russian Doll”
MySpace: Lucky Soul

The New York Times gets a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion and styling of Florence & The Machine; NPR and Blare also have interviews with Florence Welch.

Spinner talks to Doves about their new best-of collection The Places Between, from which they’ve released a video for the one new song.

Video: Doves – “Andalucia”

There’s also a new Lightspeed Champion clip from Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You. NME reports that Dev Hynes recently had a bad time with some medical issues, but is feeling better now.

Video: Lightspeed Champion – “Madame Van Damme”

And also one from Emma Pollock, taken from her second solo record The Law Of Large Numbers.

Video: Emma Pollock – “Red Orange Green”

Metro and Love Shack Baby have interviews with members of Fanfarlo.

The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Province and The Vancouver Sun have features on and MPR a streaming radio session with The xx. They’re at the Kool Haus on April 20.

Song By Toad has a lovely session with Mumford & Sons available to download.

A first sample of Been Listening, the second album from Johnny Flynn, is now available to download. The record is out June 7.

MP3: Johnny Flynn – “Kentucky Flynn”

The Quietus has details on The Boxer, the debut solo effort from (former?) Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke. It’s out June 21.

NME reports that Richard Hawley will release a new digital EP on June 8 entitled False Lights From The Land, featuring “Remorse Code” from last year’s Truelove’s Gutter, one new song and two covers.

Fyfe Dangerfield will be playing a handful of North American dates in support of his solo record Fly Yellow Moon, including a May 23 date at the El Mocambo. Leeds Music Scene and The Linc have interviews with the lead singer of The Guillemots.

MP3: Fyfe Dangerfield – “She Needs Me”
Video: Fyfe Dangerfield – “She Needs Me”

Athlete will bring their new record Black Swan to Lee’s PAlace on June 7 – full North American dates at The Music Slut.

Video: Athlete – “Black Swan Song”

The June 1 release of The Futureheads’ new record The Chaos will be accompanied by a North American tour, including a June 10 date at the Mod Club. There’s a feature piece on the band at News Of The World.

MP3: The Futureheads – “Struck Dumb”

The Guardian reports that Supergrass will be calling it a day this Summer, after 17 years of power-pop.

Video: Supergrass – “Richard III”

If you’ve got 90 minutes to kill, then this episode of BBC6’s The Record Producers on Bernard Butler is well worth a listen – it examines his works from Suede through his solo career to his role today as one of the most in-demand producers in the UK, complete with interviews and exclusive audio samples.

The Sun reports that Blur will release their first new single in seven years this Saturday for Record Store Day in the UK. The head of their label Parlophone tells BBC6 he hopes this is just the start of more new music from the band. Of course he does.

Spinner talks to Bernard Sumner about both Bad Lieutenant and New Order.

Drowned In Sound gets to know Chapterhouse, whose May 1 show at the Horseshoe has unfortunately been cancelled.

Roger Waters will kick off the 30th anniversary tour for Pink Floyd’s The Wall on September 15 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Toronto Star talks to Waters about the tour, which he says will likely be his last.

Eardrums talks to the makers of a documentary currently being made about legendary Sarah Records label. The Story Of Sarah Records isn’t due out until the end of the year, but a teaser trailer is up now and call for stories and memorabilia about the label open.

Trailer: The Story Of Sarah Records

By : Frank Yang at 7:31 am
Category: General

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RSS Feed for this post3 Responses.
  1. bike says:

    The NXNE outdoor free concert stage looks stacked this year.

    http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/story.cfm?content=174483

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