Marathon Artists – August 11th
If you subscribe to the Flaming Lips’ school of psychedelia, then shrill guitar fuzz and gloopy bass is best etched over expansive landscapes of cerebral nonsense. Here distant lifeforms and mind-altering substances meld together in dazed unity, forging a world removed from your tawdry existence.
Childhood aren’t like all that. Formed while studying at Nottingham University, their songs centre on getting the girl and raising hell. What worked for The Stone Roses has a similar but not quite so classic effect on Lacuna, the four-piece’s debut album. It’s bold, vibrant and totally accessible, not least on lead single ‘Falls Away’ where a trembling haze churns around your headphones before morphing into a gloriously off-kilter chorus.
Part of the credit for this has to go to producer Dan Carey, whose previous work with Tame Impala and Yeasayer has clearly come in handy. Childhood feel like an authentic outfit, although only one of Lacuna’s tracks sprawls over the five minute mark. As such, ‘Solemn Skies’ strays closest to pastiche with frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s echo-laden whoops and breathless plea to “take me higher” recalling the kind of guff your dad owns on vinyl.
‘Blue Velvet’ is a better singalong effort that’s deceptively lackadaisical. One minute you’re tumbling along with its neat string picking, the next you’ve been swept up in an almighty rush of blissed out majesty. This trick is Childhood’s calling card and it’s one they’ll further refine on albums to come. For the meantime, ‘You Could Be Different’, ‘Right Beneath Me’ and ‘Tides’ plough a similarly spectral furrow – one you can luxuriate in without too much thought. ‘Sweeter Preacher’ breaks the tone with a hefty, howling riff but, by and large, this album melds together into an eminently listenable mush.
Although they toured with Palma Violets last year, you can count Childhood among the growing number of British bands who don’t list The Libertines or Britpop as their defining influence. That’s refreshing to hear, although it doesn’t make Lacuna’s songs innately distinct. This is a good record from a band who’ll soon create something better.
Buy: Childhood – Lacuna
Live: Oslo – August 13th