Artist: Lightspeed Champion
Album: Falling Off The Lavender Bridge
Rating: * * *
Presently, the British music scene is crammed with acoustic singer-songwriters, strumming their bland and mundane ditties to apathetic ears across the nation. Every now and then, a James Morrison or a KT Tunstall will be plucked from the chasm of mediocrity, spruced up by a major label, and bent over a bench, rears aloft, awaiting the arrival of Radio 1. Thankfully, Dev Hynes – self-confessed metalhead and ex-member of short-lived scene kids Test Icicles – is of a different breed.
Where Test Icicles were a whirlwind blast of skinny jeans, kinetic yelps and frazzled guitars – typical of the hectic and superficial capital that spawned them – Lightspeed Champion is similarly representative of the open plains of Nebraska, where Falling Off the Lavender Bridge was recorded and produced by Saddle Creek legend Mike Mogis, of Bright Eyes fame.
The record blooms into life with ‘Galaxy of the Lost’: cellos dance with Emma Lee-Moss’ harmonies, climbing skyward before sinking, leaving Dev to recount an alcohol-soaked tale of love lost. Lyrically, the record has a tendency to be overly candid – “wake up to the smell of semen”, for example– which suggests that despite the Americana twang, Hynes has nevertheless scrawled ‘London’ all over these offerings. These lyrical anachronisms momentarily prick the listener’s ear, but jar ever so slightly with the music. A case in point is ‘Everyone I know is Listening to Crunk’, where an ambience of woozy melancholy is expertly woven, quivering finger-picking and yearning peddle steel, resulting in a sound that defies the song’s title.
Essentially, Lightspeed Champion has crafted an assured, cohesive debut, clearly infused with the classic Saddle Creek sound. The music ebbs and meanders, and is, in places perceptive and deep. However, edge and eloquence are often absent, leaving a refreshing British debut, but by no means a groundbreaking one.