Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted

Bill Cummings 01/05/2007

Rating: 4.5/5

What happened to good old-fashioned “indie” bands? Bands that toured until they perfected an individual “sound”!? Maybe all hope isn't lost Greenwich six piece Lucky Soul know all about hard work, and posses the chops to back it up, their debut is the culmination of years of craft shaping a HiFi sound that matches lavish lovingly created Spectorish POP to a sensitive, glamorous, yet heartfelt sensibility embodied by front lady Ali Howard a vocalist of supreme quality: her tone is warm, yet quivering, gloriously melodic, yet bristling with heartbreak and loss.

Opening up with the playful brass, and joyful melodies of “Add your light to Mine, Baby” that flounces on a glittery ball inflected dance floor, recalling Belle And Sebastian's “Legal Man”, it's an exuberant slice of pop.

“The Great Unwanted” contains multiple moments of such melodic brilliance that they bristle the skin, and lift the mood, the summery blue skies of “One Kiss Don't Make a Summer” is full of gorgeously wistful-ness, delicately shimmering guitars, and a wonderful chorus. Even when the sound is reassuredly upbeat, every tune here is laced with this feeling of heartbreak, only the best bands can delicately balance the glory of melody with the harsh pangs of real life, Lucky Soul are dead on the money virtually every single time. “Struck Dumb” is glistening sultry doo wopp that sips a cocktail whilst retelling a tail of unrequited love, while “Lips Are Unhappy” wonderous Wurlitzer line and Rickenbaker guitars rub against brilliant backing refrains, and Ali's longing words (“Pretending that I've got a clue/when I'm twenty seven shades of blue.”) the final sing-along “Shake! Shake! Shimmy!” outré simply oozes class, it's a smash hit that you won't hear on the radio nearly enough.

The sighing late night bar room Hammond organs of “Baby I'm Broke” quivers with understated longing, Whilst last years single “My Brittle Heart” still sounds outstanding, huge cavernous drums, restrained strings, are lightly touched by Andrew's glistening guitar licks and topped off by Ali's fantastically bittersweet lyrics, and simply sublime swooping pop melodies. (“I've had all the breaks a heart can bear/No, No, don't set me free.”)

The album's title track and center piece is a stately affair, like some 50s drive in theme, replete with pared down strings, tremolo guitars its self affirming lyrics are an affirmation of their new found confidence as a band(“Look for us coz we were the whipping children/But no more”) and even a hint of a Morrissey-like kiss off( “Its your party you can die if you want to.”)

Maybe the only criticism you could make of The Great Unwanted is that it may be a couple of tracks (A Towering Inferno, Get Out Of Town) too long, but it does feel like an album you can really sink your teeth into, like a refreshing orange on a sweltering day. Stepping away from the mundanity of much of the mainstream “guitar pop” currently being pummeled to death on commercial radio “The Great Unwanted” is an album that should sneak into many people's end of year lists. Some cynics will argue that their sound bares too much of a resemblance to Dusty Springfield, The Ronnettes, and Motown, it's a glossy but essentially blank, pastiche of the old, this ground if you will is perhaps too well trodden. That would be to miss the point, Lucky Soul may be influenced by the past, but crucially the whole thing is blushed with their own modern sensibility, Its Ali's heart pounding lyrics, and quivering bitter sweet delivery that set them apart, conjuring up memories of the best of Saint Etienne and early Catatonia. The Great Unwanted? Never! Lucky Soul's debut is an absolute triumph.