Mark Raison reviews the 60s-style pop of Loveless Unbeliever.
Summer’s here and the time is right for sitting in the park, supping a cool long drink, tartan picnic rug on the ground, watching young lovers walk hand in hand as mummy duck leads her chicks along the riverbank, dogs chasing sticks, people laughing ice cream smiles in the hazy mid-afternoon sunshine.
Now for the benefit of this piece I’ll assume neither you nor I will go tearing into this idyllic scene to trample the flowers underfoot or throw up from the fingers down the throat sickliness of it all. Instead, we’ll provide it with a suitably summery and uncynical soundtrack. Boys and girls, please welcome The School.
On first earful they sound like heirs to Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura – and they’ll pick up fans from them – but they’re nowhere near as bookish, wordy or gloomy as Belle, and Camera Obscura (with ‘Lloyd’ the obvious exception) rarely sound as bouncy or as innocent. Loveless Unbeliever is closer to We Are The Pipettes: short, snappy pop songs unashamedly harking back to the days of the Brill Building, Hitsville, anywhere where people studiously sat and crafted hits – songs girls would sing on buses, Mums would hum along to on the radio as they did the dishes (it’s the early 60s remember), and boys would deride the music whilst secretly harbouring a crush on the singer.
‘I Want You Back’ is utterly irresistible and should be blaring from rows of Mini Coopers and Volkswagen Beetles as it sits atop the Hit Parade, ‘Valentine’ merrily skips along sing-songing to itself, ‘Let It Slip’ is all handclaps, horns and ba-ba-ba-ing, and still they come. Every few minutes another pop tale torn from the yellowing pages of Teen or Honey.
Despite the girly sixties feel to singer Liz Hunt’s songwriting, Ian Catt’s production is less lavish Phil Spector and more cut-price Trevor Horn but it works. It is what it is. Yes it’s twee, yes it’s sugary, yes it’s fluffy but relax and soak it up. There’ll be dark days ahead when we can chop up, jack up, wig out or kick over the statues but for now, as they sing themselves, ‘summer’s here and there’s nothing you can do’.