The Long Blondes 

?Couples? (Rough Trade)

The Long Blondes are onto you. They’re onto that proper façade you maintain five days a week while you contribute to the global masses and the mundane. They study what you wear, what books you read, what films you watch and, most importantly, what you listen to. Ever since they signed to Rough Trade Records in April of 2006 and subsequently released Someone to Drive You Home, they have been charting your pop progress and your silly trends. After all, one must note the evolution of an audience before delivering exactly what it wants.

To toss in a bit of flair and heighten their indie cred, these Sheffield natives snagged DJ sensation Erol Alkan to produce “Couples”, and the result is both stunning and admirable. The record’s first single,  ‘Century’, sounds like early 80s girl-glam-rock with lead vocalist Kate Jackson evoking early Madonna while channeling Blondie’s grit, with lyrics highlighting the evolution of a buzzing society into a barren wasteland. Supported by Dorian Cox on lead guitar and keyboard, Reenie Hollis on bass guitar, Emma Chaplin on rhythm guitar and keyboard and Screech Louder on drums, the Long Blondes come together upon the lush, risqué roots of Depeche Mode and New Order. All at once “Couples” is indulgent, invasive and dangerously delicious. Jackson possesses a voice that is certainly as commanding and strong as any of her peers, and promising enough to wonder if she might someday take on the giants that came before her. She’s on an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s a dandy of a ride to be on, through its highs and lows. Conversely, Screech Louder plays oil to Kate’s vinegar, churning the creeping lyrics along with fast-paced, steady drumming.

The track ‘I Liked the Boys’ showcases the experience of moving on from the youthful innocence of crushes and first love to mature recognition, “I look in the mirror and the woman I see bears no resemblance in my face.” It’s a sophomore release that builds nicely on its predecessor, revealing a band that’s grown substantially — with, not out of, its target audience.

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