“Kooky-cool attired indie-rockers from Sheffield” – sound familiar? Fortunately or unfortunately, take your pick, the Long Blondes have managed to distance themselves from fellow Sheffield exports, such as the Arctic Monkeys, with a fresh and idiosyncratic sound. According to the album press release, “they want to be as good as Abba. Seriously, it’s not irony” (apparently their brunette-locks tick that box).
Self-defined ‘glam-punk’ Kate Jackson heads the group, with probably one of the most peculiar vocals to surface in a while. Her voice possess the kind of tonal range that prompted one of my housemates to insist: “I’m telling you, the singer’s a guy”, yet at other times eerily echoes Kate Bush, circa her ‘Wuthering Heights’ glory. My guess is that Jackson wouldn’t be too insulted by either observation – the band seem to pride themselves on being a wacky melange of genres, citing both Burt Bacharach and Holland-Dozier-Holland as inspirations. Unfortunately I hadn’t heard of either of these, though maybe if I had, some of their tracks wouldn’t have left me feeling just a little baffled. ‘Separated by Motorways’ is at first painfully reminiscent of the strained vocals and banal guitar riffs found in indie-generica (Kaiser Chiefs being a tentative example) until a surprisingly Blondie-esque chorus kicks in.
‘Once and never again’ is pleasantly chipper and a little kitsch. However, after a couple of listens you realise that you’re bopping your head in giddy enjoyment to “look what he’s made you do to your arm again…you’d said you’d cut yourself whilst washing up the kitchen knives”.
Some forbearance and a little forgiveness are needed to get through the album as the repetitive indie-disco rhythms can grate. Nevertheless, patience is a virtue and after becoming acclimatised, the record is refreshingly appealing. A commendable debut – although maybe they should rethink those Abba aspirations.
Reviewed by Sara Sayeed
Out this week