Album Reviews

The Lodger – Life Is Sweet

(Bad Sneakers) UK release date: 19 May 2008

There’s a good chance that The Lodger will end up being one of those groups you’ll either love or hate but who will divide the room completely, one way or the other.

There’s a little bit of The Smiths about them, a little bit of Suede and just a dash of The Libertines, a patchwork quilt you can snuggle down into as you lie in an urban bedsit contemplating lost girlfriends, meaningless futures and why the universe and your music collection revolves around diminished sevenths.

Their lyrics sit tantalisingly between fatalism, broken dreams and hopeless optimism. “You’re a cruel, cruel girl/but sublime”, sings Ben Siddall on Falling Down; “It’s a funny affair/Trying to address the people/you don’t care about anymore”, goes one of the most memorable lines on The Conversation, while on Nothing Left To Say he warns us that, “There’s an innocence you see/of not knowing much about tomorrow/and the places that we’ll be/sounds so hollow”.

It’s not a new trick to mix a sense of creeping misery with fantastically catchy tunes but few bands manage to do it so well. Everything about them reeks of Morrissey’s Salford and Suede’s Asda Town, ripped up and relaid for the new decade over riffs learned from Johnny Marr. Sometimes the Yorkshire vowels slip through and remind you of Pulp, while on tracks such as An Unwelcome Guest there’s a sense of things falling apart that’s been inherited from The Beatles at their most despondent.

The Lodger are an unmistakably English band, whose charm, innocence and world weariness you’d imagine would be ruined by too much commercial success. It is, then, entirely to their credit that since their debut album, Grown Ups, they’ve toured the USA (which surely would have been a bit bemused by them?) lost producer du jour James Ford and yet still manage to emerge from the other end sounding more low-fi and bedsit indie than ever.

At present, they’ve just returned home to Leeds after a week supporting The Long Blondes in Germany and are due to be playing an in-store gig in their home town’s Jumbo Records on the day this wonderful album is released. It seems so much more appropriate a venue for them than Barcelona, where you’ll find them come July. They belong to a world of faded dreams, of unrealised ambitions and opportunities non-one had the confidence to pursue.

The desolation of Famous Last Words – the lyrics and the long instrumental section at the end – is iLiKETRAiNS filtered through Dog Man Star. If you don’t think that’s something to be damn grateful for, there’s even less hope for you than the song itself would have you believe.

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The Lodger – Life Is Sweet