The Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home

Tim Miller 06/11/2006

Rating: 4/5

It is 2020. The Long Blondes are receiving their third Contribution to Music award of the year. Kate Jackson is beaming at the crowd, heavily pregnant, of course, with her husband Tim Miller's second child. Having rejected the advances of Justin Timberlake, Pete Doherty, and Eminem, and forgetting that whirlwind romance with one-time starlet Alex Turner, Kate Jackson is now happy. Her eyes glaze over, remembering where it all began to go right…

Here. The year 2006. Two years ago, GodisintheTV's Jared O'Mara interviewed a struggling Sheffield band formed in and around their University library. The signs were there, the potential was all too evident, the musical chemistry of this young 5-piece was already smouldering, growing ever hotter. It grew slowly, but gradually, the flickering flames of passion and lust and blazing guitars and stomping indie beats spread around the country. Helpfully, the NME cottoned on this year, at last, and there was nothing left to do but wait for the release. The final, definitive gathering of hard graft, burning desire and gorgeously catchy tunes that make up The Long Blondes' debut - eagerly awaited, desperately anticipated, years in the making, months in perfecting - has finally arrived. And it is everything you could hope for, and then some.

The Long Blondes, if you've been living in Afghanistan for the last 36 months, deal in punchy, poppy indie that makes you want to sing, dance, shout and stamp your feet, clap your hands and shimmy from side to side. The three girls and two boys proffer plucky guitar riffs, stampeding drums, wisps of synth and growling groovy bass, fronted by undoubtedly the coolest idol in British music. They are the epitome of hip, they are the hottest thing of 2006, they look like everyone wants to, they sound like what every new band should strive to sound. Whisper it, but they might well be better than that other band to come out of Sheffield not so long ago.

If, however, you haven't been living in Afghanistan, then it's quite possible that you will recognise almost half of the album from releases, MySpace and live performances. Included, of course, are the singles 'Once and Never Again', 'Giddy Stratospheres', 'Separated by Motorways' and 'Weekend Without Makeup'. Such is the strength of the album, in fact, that there's no place for early classic 'Appropriation (by any other name)'.

Screeching feedback opens this LP, preceding the first and not the last anthemic chorus to 'Lust In The Movies': “Edie Sedgewick, Anna Karina, Arlene Dahl, I just want to be your sweetheart”, followed by the gloriously uplifting 'Once And Never Again', with its sexually ambiguous tale of women talk. The shimmering guitar chords of 'Giddy Stratospheres' and 'Weekend Without Makeup' appear like smiling friends. Elsewhere though, there is much more, in the pleading love-struck tale of 'Only Lovers Left Alive', the barely concealed jealousy of 'In The Company of Women', the dance-floor indie brilliance of 'You Could Have Both': “Just when you're ready to take on the world, some other girl has to get there first”.

The one drawback is that over 12 songs, The Long Blondes sound has little by way of change. But when it is a sound so fantastically well done, with witty, ironic lyrics so elegantly put, you can hardly blame them for filling their debut with 12 tracks of their winning formula.

There's more of it, too. 'Swallow Tattoo' offers a guitar-pop sing and dancealong, while album closer 'A Knife for the Girls' is the darkest moment, musically haunting and lyrically violent. And by the time you reach this ending, like this reviewer, you'll be reaching to play it back in its entirety again.

And soon come the plaudits, the fame, the brilliant 'difficult' second album, the classic third, the singles collection, until the Contribution to Music awards in 2020, and we're back where we started.

Okay, so that future may be a little too farfetched at this moment in time. Let's face it; Kate Jackson probably isn't going to marry this reviewer. Probably. But the long wait for The Long Blondes' debut album Someone To Drive You Home is over, and it is that good, that a pathway to stardom is surely begun by the band. 2006 has been one of the better years for debut albums; in years to come, this release might mark it as a vintage.