Album Reviews

Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke

(Island) UK release date: 22 September 2008

Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke 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 salmon shooting cannon.

Yet, to the despair of the legions of fish-in-a-barrel enthusiasts lining up for a three hour bonanza of dead marine life, this eponymous debut is really rather good. Even after what seems like an endless stream of debut records from sisters doing it for themselves (Santigold, Lykke Li, Ida Maria etc. etc.) Ladyhawke has made something that may well trump the lot of them.

In these careful hands, songs like Crazy World and Morning Dreams – which could be prime candidates for soundtracking the closing credits of some godawful John Hughes movie where a bunch of disparate so-and-so’s find out a) they aren’t so different and b) some life lesson so blindingly obvious that only those who think creationism is a valid theory of evolution could possibly miss it – are carried off 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 Castles will be if one day Alice Glass turns round and finds Chris Lowe making a nuisance of himself on that Gameboy (Magic) or, on the über-fizzy My Delirium, producing one of those choruses so catchy it makes people refer inappropriately to flesh-eating viruses.

So while Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Nicks referencing may be either a guilty pleasure or hopelessly cool in a semi-ironic fashion (which appears to depend on precisely where we are on some sort of complex lunar cycle), here the influences are held neither guiltily nor in a particularly ironic 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 some kind of escaped runaway from Rumours if it turned out her drummer was 10 feet tall and the midst of divorce 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 her middle-eights haven’t got the dynamic propulsion of Rachmaninoff sparring with Captain Beefheart over the last puppy in the shop”. So we’ll settle for saying it’s a great record. Full stop.

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Ladyhawke: “I’m not in this to be a Hollywood star, I want to make the music” – Interview