Album Reviews

Kevin Kane – How To Build A Lighthouse

(Bongo Beat) UK release date: 5 May 2008

According to the sleeve notes of Kevin Kane’s HowTo Build A Lighthouse (in more than one place), theseventh track is See Emily Play. It’s not: it’s ArnoldLayne. Search all you like for some clue as to whythis has happened, but you won’t find one. The credits(rightly) accredit all songs to ‘Kevin Kane excepttrack five by Kane/Neudorf and track seven by SydBarrett’ but that doesn’t help. It’s not See EmilyPlay. It’s definitely Arnold Layne.

This sets off a fabulously trippy stream of thoughtthat turns out to the perfect accompaniment to thislovely little gem of an album. First conspiracy theoryfor consideration: this is a wonderfully cleverin-joke designed to sort the real lovers of dreamy,psych-drenched, innocent/twee pop from the chaff. Ifyou don’t know your Syd Barrett songs apart, sod offand listen to someone who doesn’t owe such a debt tohim instead.

Then comes the second paranoid schizophrenic muse:a terrible realisation that maybe Kevin Kane doesn’tknow the difference himself. Maybe he really thinkstrack seven is See Emily Play. His website, the pressrelease nor anything else gives and glimmer ofexplanation. But there it is – tucked away amidstgentle sixties melodies that were born from the loinsof The Byrds, The Kinks and TheBeatles, reached puberty in the hands ofBlur and live on today through Jim Noir– a song that’s not what it appears to be.

And yet to mis-identify a song by such a pop geniusas Syd Barrett and to not even notice, instead tosimply lie back and let it all wash over you, is aperfect metaphor of the mood this album instils. It’sinnocent, slightly off kilter, fragile and fracturedall at once, a beautiful package of beautiful songsthat soak though the summer air on harmonies carriedby the breeze and the waves of your very life essence.

Mixed by Steven Drake (late of the TragicallyHip) and never betraying Kane’s roots in late ’80sswoonsters the Grapes of Wrath, the collectionof songs brings together the best elements of thesummer of love and the revivals it has had since,drenched in Baggy homages and today’s return to nugaze. There’s a touch of insanity lurking beneath thesurface but we all like that, don’t we, indie kids?

In other words, this is a great album. Initiallyintriguing because it includes a Pink Floydcover, even more intriguing when you realise it doesbut not in the way you thought, it gradually wins youover by sounding like something Syd Barrett might havewritten anyway. All in all, what more can you ask for?

If you know the story behind it, answers on apostcard would be appreciated.

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Kevin Kane – How To Build A Lighthouse