They have been compared to THE FALL and THE WEDDING PRESENT, and have all the good bits a pop band should have: cool singer, lots of guitar, catchy songs, sharp lyrics, and they have scored a few international underground hits with their previous singles. This is their full-length debut. Check their website!
Imagine an old English eccentric on a hot Summer’s day; smartly dressed, out in the garden but remaining cool, G&T in one hand - Shelley in the other, and with a fixed knowing smile talking about the weather. Imagine this but replace “an old English eccentric” with one in his early 20’s. Then you may begin to know what lies in store for you on THE LOVELIES delightful debut album.
“The Tuff Of The Tracks” is full of all things English - luck (mostly bad, as on the title track itself and “Sad Luck Thomson And his Lucky Big Band”), love (or the lack of it, as on one of the CD’s singles, “Love-Lack” -chosen as the first video as well), dreaming (examined via the polarity of “Icarus Of Lautertal” and “Head For The Hills”), and of course cakes (“Tea And Cake”). All this is achieved with a sweep of divergent pop stylistics which sugar and fire the singer’s observations and droll satires.
THE LOVELIES scored an underground hit on Elefant in 1993 (which sold out very quickly), and have had their music released in the USA by Cher Doll of Seattle, yet they remain an enigma in the UK. Rarely seen in performance, this pop/arthouse band led by singer/songwriter/guitarist/visual artist and sometimes TV presenter (say that lot quickly) Tobin Thomson make a DIY music which draws the introverted and marginalised into the madcap ordinary world - and the ordinary world gets a chance to glimpse the introverted and marginalised.
Thomson is well known for his easy charm and his artistic intensity. Check-out the brilliant video for “Weekenderman”, which appears on the “20 Framed Beats” film. It captures a band at the peak of their powers, their humour, and a flicker of the world which they relate to and hop-skip away from.
“The Tuff Of The Tracks” is a balancing act between brittle dischordants and full-ahead power pop. The eloquent stick-work of Simon Gray and dexterous production of Watershed Studio’s James Perrett should be acknowledged for their considerable contribution in helping to relate the complexity of moods here. It may not make the UK’s music press to gather THE LOVELIES to their bosom, but it exists just as surely as people and places like this exist.
The delivery is stylishly lo-fi. The sweep of imagination which has gone into the different musical arrangements is first rate. The shifting vocal effects, which are always acutely English are designed to match the range of characterisation. Throughout THE LOVELIES know that no-budget does not have to mean no-imagination or no-tension. “The Tuff Of The Tracks” is a debut crammed with songs (there are 14 of them) for and about the everyday, the lovely, the banal, the comic, the bitter, the whimsical, oh and of course, for and about that eccentric who is hovering somewhere between 17 and 70.
(Author of the book “Twenty Missed Beats”, 1997)