Shirley Lee - Dissolving Time / Spiralina Girl
Nick Lewis 24/07/2009
Shirley Lee of cult indie band Spearmint has finally released a solo album, from which this Double A-side download comes. (Do Mp3s have sides?)
If like me, you've been entirely unaware of Mr. Lee and his band's oeuvre so far, then to be honest, you haven't been missing out on much. Don't get me wrong, he makes a pleasantly sunny sound that would serve as a wonderful background to the time I spend daydreaming about laughing with my friends on Brighton beach with a good stock of Mojitos and Pimms, but there's not much else to it.
Overall his sound harks back to the sort of non-descript 90's guitar-pop we all liked when we were twelve, such as The Lightning Seeds and Feeder (lite - in Lee's case); and the flashes of vibraphone on the bonus track Restless Soul reminds me a little of Babybird. Unlike Babybird however, Mr. Lee lacks any sort of power or soul to his voice, instead offering a breathy non-singing that is far too low in the mix for someone apparently celebrated for his lyrics.
I have to admit; this supposed celebration (manifesting itself in a book of “graphic novellas” inspired by twenty-four of his songs) is an absolute mystery to me. There are some charming descriptions in Spiralina Girl, “she takes my hand/in the infamous Margate double-handlock” for one, but largely it reeks of teenage ideas of romance; the sort of thing lonely sixteen year olds who haven't actually met any girls dream up. When he's not being wistfully adolescent he brings out the pseudo-philosophy: “how can you die if you haven't lived?” was one particular line that failed to move me into throwing out my Kant.
His greatest lyrical triumph in these songs is the bonus track, where the only recognisable chorus of the three hangs on a liberal use of the 'c-word', for no apparent reason - thereby rendering the king of the swears utterly sterile and meaningless.
All in all, Shirley Lee sounds like someone who was probably sixteen in 1994, and sort of forgot to grow up.
Shirley Lee Myspace