The Loose Salute’s debut album kicks off with the gentle tickling of a glockenspiel. It sounds as fragile as droplets of rain – an apporpriate image for the Great British Summertime in all its soggyness.
Tuned To Love is a summer album though, so having got those few delicate notes out of the way, it’s something of a joy to hear the pomp of some seriously sunny surf keyboards that conjure thoughts of surf boards strapped to the roof of a VW camper overlooking a Cornish beach as the sun sinks into the waves. But this song’s called Death Club, and features the lyrics “Death Club are on the beach and they want to die”. So perhaps it’s just safer for everyone if we stop coupling imagery to The Loose Salute’s music just for a minute.
Formed by Mojave 3 drummer Ian McCutcheon, The Loose Salute are, as you might expect, skipping around the edges of the alt-country scene that his other band inhabited. Here he performs a far more central role as singer and songwriter, but the plaudits should really go to his co-vocalist Laura Billson who injects a far more sultry edge to proceedings. She’s not quite as quirky as Cardigan’s Nina Persson but she fulfils a similar role softening the edges of The Loose Salute’s music further and injecting a sweetness that McCutcheon’s gentle but generic vocals simply don’t possess. When they work together the mix is irresistible, but on his own McCutcheon lacks sparkle – and once Billson pours honey over her tracks, it’s more noticeable.
It isn’t a massive move away from Mojave 3′s sound – a missed opportunity, perhaps. But it’s hard to criticise songs that make you long for a summer day when you can pop this into the CD player, sit in a paddling pool in your back garden and fish around in the water for a nice cold brew. Turn The Radio on is catchy little number that grabs you by the ears (gently, obviously) and drips an effortlessly memorable chorus into your brain via your inner ear.
The more melancholy tracks tend to get a little bit lost. Why Did We Fight in particular drags on for five and half minutes without really doing very much other than making you want to drop the CD player into paddling pool and getting it all over with.
Thankfully the likes of Through The Stratosphere To The Stars take things into their own hands and lighten the mood considerably calling to mind the brightest moments of labelmates The Magic Numbers.
Tuned To Love certainly has its moments. When it’s good it is light and breezy and a genuine breath of fresh air. At its weakest it can sound a little short of ideas and less than original. As an accompaniment to the summer it works – as long as we have a summer, of course.