Brave Captain will shortly release an EP entitled Better Living Through Reckless Experimentation. Sounds quite good doesn’t it? Sounds like Martin Carr is carrying on where he left off with The Boo Radleys, producing exquisite psych-power-pop beauties, with a little influence from said “reckless experimentation”. Maybe he’s gone dead eclectic, and he’s using pigs as woodwind instruments and fellow scousers Atomic Kitten as, well, firewood or something. But who can say?! That’s the beauty of it!
Depressing then that it is just slightly funky, slightly heavy, slightly baggy, slightly acoustic gubbins then. Not so much bad as uneventful, there’s little to stimulate, and any victory is truly relinquished when a thoroughly boring version of Boo’s classic Lazarus is aired – surely one of the best singles that Creation Records ever put out – tonight stripped of the horns, noise and anger that made it essential. Backing band Derrero (who played their own set before Carr adds himself and a sax/clarinet player to the line-up) are boringly rigid, and rely too heavily on a drummer who can’t sing and drum at the same time all too well, and a keyboard player who, well, really can’t do anything of interest at all. Carr definitely adds a little panache to an otherwise blank canvas, but Giant Steps this is not.
Which sets the tone nicely for Lowgold then. Now filling the Lomax after minor hit single Mercury did the rounds on MTV2, it seems most are here on the basis of that song, as singer Darren Ford dedicates songs to “the four people who saw us here last time”. And it’s difficult to see why we should be unimpressed, when they basically play that song all night. OK, sometimes it’s a little faster, sometimes it’s a little slower, but it always sounds the same. Annoying really because I quite liked it before the gig. When it actually is played, innocuously halfway through the set, it’s a bit of a let-down, the vocals not quite so heart-breaking, the distorted random guitar towards the end ditched in favour of a fade-to-black outro.
But perhaps it misses the point to expect Lowgold to burn out more than fade away, as Neil Young or Kurt Cobain would famously preach. This is a band that will ooze character underneath the music rather than because of it. The demure In Amber can be appreciated, if not loved, and with Beauty Dies Young there is a mournful, lip-biting solemnity at work. Darren’s vocals are stripped of the studio production and occasionally can be more affecting because of it, but his melodies never stray from his own tried and trusted path. A Lowgold song is like listening to a private conversation with the soul, and as enchanting as this is, it always seems to be the same monologue each time. Variety is not their strong point. So, the gravity-stricken Teenage Fanclub, anyone?