Album Reviews

Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke

(Island) UK release date: 22 September 2008


Bam! Kazam! Ladyhawke! A superhero for the noughties. Beamed direct to you from the ’80s.

To be completely fair to Pip Brown – as little Miss Ladyhawke is better known to her friends and loved ones – in many ways this record sounds like it has less chance of working than a mortgage broker.Cat obsessed kookery and unabashed Fleetwood Maccery? Pass me my vat au poisson and my salmonshooting cannon.

Yet, to the despair of the legions of fish-in-a-barrel enthusiasts lining up for a three hourbonanza of dead marine life, this eponymous debut is really quite good. Even after what seems likean endless stream of debut records from sisters doing it for themselves (Santogold, LykkeLi, Ida Maria etc. etc.) Ladyhawke has made something that may well trump the lot ofthem.

In these careful hands, songs like Crazy World and Morning Dreams – which could be prime candidatesfor soundtracking the closing credits of some godawful John Hughes movie where a bunch of disparateso-and-so’s find out a) they aren’t so different and b) some life lesson so blindingly obvious thatonly those who think creationism is a valid theory of evolution could possibly miss it – are carriedoff with such grace and style to make you totally forget to be mean at all.

Not an easy thing to do. Even less easy is managing to find precisely what Crystal Castleswill be if one day Alice Glass turns round and finds Chris Lowe making a nuisance of himself on thatGameboy (Magic) or, on the uber fizzy My Delirium, producing one of those choruses so catchy itmakes people refer inappropriately to flesh-eating viruses.

So while Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Nicks referencing may be either a guilty pleasure orhopelessly cool in a semi-ironic fashion (which appears to depend on precisely where we are on somesort of complex lunar cycle), here the influences are held neither guiltily nor in a particularlyironic way. Which leaves just, well, pleasure. Oh yeah, and a giddy sense of earnestness.

Ah hell, it isn’t even that retro. Except for Back Of The Van. Which couldn’t feel more like somekind of escaped runaway from Rumours if it turned out her drummer was 10 feet tall and the midst ofdivorce proceedings against everyone else in the band.

In the end the we could go for saying that this a great pop record. But it’s not. Ok, it is,but labelling it in that way sounds like a bit of a cop out. A bit of a po-faced, “yeah well hermiddle-eights haven’t got the dynamic propulsion of Rachmaninoff sparring with CaptainBeefheart over the last puppy in the shop”. So we’ll settle for saying it’s a great record. Fullstop.


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Ladyhawke @ 100 Club, London
Ladyhawke @ Scala, London