Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Review of Big Deal’s Lights Out
FacebookOn paper, London’s Big Deal doesn’t really bring a lot to the table. Two guitars – one acoustic, one electric – and two voices – one American male, one English female – and that’s about it. There’s not much in the way of virtuosity in the former and neither Kacey Underwood or Alice Costelloe’s vocals would stop anyone in their tracks either alone or in harmony. To hear it described, you’d be forgiven for expecting it to lean towards being rather conventional and/or pedestrian.
And yet their debut album Lights Out carries with it enough ineffable magic to demand you take notice, despite being rather determinedly low key. Some of that could be attributed to the duo’s backstory, assuming you know it (late-twenties Underwood taught the teenage Costelloe to play Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr on guitar and they ended up forming a band) and the questions about whether their relationship is strictly friends and bandmates or something more (a Guardian interview from last Summer rather firmly dismisses that speculation), but even without any of that colouring things, Lights Out is much more than the sum of its parts.
Both singers possess a certain intrinsic yearning and weariness to their voices that’s particularly effective for the lyrics that hint at (or even overtly reference if metaphorically) a bare, emotional intimacy. Combine that with the warm, wooly sonic blanket that’s created by Underwood’s lightly fuzzy electric guitar and Costelloe’s strummed acoustic – capable of switching to delicately interwoven guitar lines or rocking distorted leads for for punctuation – and out of these basic ingredients come a dozen tracks that don’t range too far apart but instead do their work by drawing you right in. Their band name might be a bit tongue-in-cheek but don’t underestimate for a minute how much Big Deal have to offer.
Lights Out is out on Tuesday. The Guardian declared them “New Band Of The Day” a couple of weeks ago.
Swedish electro-pop outfit Miike Snow have made a May 1 date at The Sound Academy in support of their forthcoming album Happy To You, out March 27. The first single is available to stream over at Spin.
Stream: Miike Snow – “Paddling Out”
And while on the topic of things Icelandic, check out this mini-documentary film on Iceland Airwaves. I actually think I watched a version of this on the plane on the way back from last year’s festival, but they’ve since spliced in footage from 2011. And I may even see myself at 7:00… In any case, watch it and then make plans to go. You know you want to.