Review Summary: Lucky Soul really deliver in their debut, an alluring record easy to fall in love with.
From time to time I find myself craving female-fronted groups. It usually comes after a grindcore binge or something of a similar nature, and it’s so customary I almost look forward to it. Luckily I’ve been hitting on some fine groups lately, one being Lucky Soul. Fronted by dazzling blond Ali Howard, and supported by five accomplished accompanists, their music is pop if I’ve ever heard any, but lucky for the group, it’s got substance to it.
Lucky Soul consists of vocalist Ali Howard, Andrew Laidlaw and Ivor Sims on guitars, Toby Fogell on bass, keyboardist Malcolm Young, and Nathaniel L. Perkins on drums. The British sextuplet was formed towards the latter end of 2004 and released their debut in April of 07. It has received five-star reviews from such organizations as The Independent on Sunday and Metro, and four stars from others including the Times and Uncut Magazine. The band employs horns, jazzy guitars, eclectic keyboard voices, and Howard’s charming voice. The Great Unwanted
is an excellent record, and Lucky Soul a talented group.
The upbeat opener, “Add Your Light to Mine” is as good a place to start as any. Bouncy horns, a hooky melody and gentle key change at the end make for a fun pop tune. It’s a track I’ve gone back to many a time for its joyous feel. “One Kiss Don’t Make a Summer” has a more laid back feel, which introduces the listener to the variety to come on the disc. The song has one of those ballad-like refrains, and the clever rhythms toward the end give it a level of multiplicity which makes it feel more substantial then just any pop number. “Struck Dumb” has such a fun progression it may be my favorite track on The Great Unwanted
. Struck Dumb, dum-dum-di-do oh-woa-a-wo
articulates Howard, accompanied by a cluster of voices in the background. “Lips Are Unhappy” is a bit of a departure from the openers, with the same pop-mentality but it’s exhibited in a different manner. It’s not as joyful as the previous numbers, music harmonizing with the sorrowful lyrics. “My Darling, Anything” has a traditional feel to it, but at the same time its fresh as ever, delightfully intoxicating. Then the album rockets off with “Get Outta Town!”, an upbeat song with horns and percussion galore. The title track is notable for its soaring string-filled refrain and bass driven verse. Toward the end it climaxes into a swirling bridge, a highlight of the album. On “Baby I’m Broke” Howard’s voice takes on a different feel. It acquires a wispier, girlish tone, and it transforms the song into a strangely heartfelt one, slightly different from the earlier tracks. Its simple progression delivers simple pleasure to the listener, and the bridge is amazingly satisfying, with a short instrumental solo. Back-to-back singles are next, “My Brittle Heart”, and “Ain’t Never Been Cool”, which needless to say are catchy as anything. Then there’s the swaying “The Towering Inferno”, the slow and melodic “It’s Yours”, and finally the appropriately christened, lengthy closer, “The Last Song/A Lullaby”, a beautiful ending to the record.
If you’re one like myself who finds solace in and sometimes needs to hear good pop, this album is for you. Not only is this charming and catchy, it has a quality to it that warrants more then just the occasional listen. The music is exceptional, featuring jazzy instrumentation and perfectly executed guitar and bass work. And most importantly, Howard’s sweet, charming voice, really delivers. The Great Unwanted
is an outstanding debut, one the band will have a tough time conquering in the coming years.