Everybody has their favorite Beatle. I have favorite members of most my favorite bands, especially ones with multiple singers/songwriters. My favorite member of Teenage Fanclub is Gerard Love, the quiet, unassuming bassist who has written some of the Glaswegian band’s best songs, such as “Starsign,” “Radio,” and “Sparky’s Dream” to name three. Under the guise of Lightships, Love released his first solo album, Electric Cables, on the Scottish-leaning Domino imprint Geographic.
Assembling a band that includes a flautist, Love has made an album that doesn’t stray too far from his day job, but has its own distinct magic hour vibe. There is less emphasis on harmonies than in his other band, but in its place — that flute. It floats through the album like a ribbon on a breeze, never calling attention to itself but coloring in the outlines throughout. Think Free Design, not Jethro Tull.
Though most songs barely ripple the water, Love’s way with melody remains in full bloom. “Sweetness in her Spark,” “Stretching Out” and “Muddy Rivers” are as lovely as anything he’s done with Teenage Fanclub. Two songs have “sun” in the title and others called “Photosynthesis” and “Every Blossom,” Lightships is an appropriate name for this with a sense of melancholy adding just enough ballast. It is beautiful, but Love wanders lonely too. William Wordsworth would probably like this.