(Published on ARTSCLASH)
So never, never, never try to tell me it’s a pleasure being alone. All I have here with me are the records and the book that I own.
If there’s one thing I miss about being 13/14, it’s the pure undistilled joy the discovery of a great new band could bring. Although obviously finding a great new band is still a moment of excitement for me, this is nothing on what it felt like as a teenager, when it felt like a band was speaking directly to you, lifting you out of your (in my case) sheltered existence in suburban Bristol. When a new band felt like it was changing your life, and you’d obsessively hunt for every album track and b-side.
I had a few of these in those years, to the point where I think about being a teenager not in terms of years but in terms of these infatuations – in order, ‘the Madonna years’ (these we’ll come back to later in the week), ‘the No Doubt years’, ‘the Björk years’, ‘the Goldfrapp years’ and ‘the Patrick Wolf years’. But it was the last and most important of these I want to talk about today, Sheffield four-piece The Long Blondes.
From the first handclaps on the angular, sassy, bitchy ‘Giddy Stratospheres’ (the first of their songs that I heard after reading about them in NME,) I knew this was my sort of band – witty, retro and, crucially, female-fronted. I bought the single (on CD, nostalgia fans!), little knowing that this was the group that would define the next five years of my life.
If you’re lucky in this world, occasionally you come across a song that speaks to you of exactly how you’re feeling, a song that could have been written explicitly for you. However, I’ve been fortunate to find an entire album that did just that, and it was the LB’s first, ‘Someone to Drive You Home’.
Within the 12 tracks of this album was empathy for every negative emotion I felt throughout my teenage years and perhaps we all feel, from loneliness (‘another evening to myself, well I guess I won’t be having the time of my life tonight’ – Weekend Without Makeup), early romantic feeling (‘you fill me with inertia, but I still want to jump your bones’ – Swallow Tattoo) and most strongly of all that gem of advice from ‘Once and Never Again’ – ‘nineteen, you’re only nineteen for God’s sake – you don’t need a boyfriend’. Basically, what Morrissey anhttp://artsclash.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpd The Smiths did for so many ‘Someone to Drive You Home’ did for me.
But the great thing about this album, and why it’s still my favourite album of all time, is that every time I relisten to it (which is probably still at least once a month) there’s things that just seem so applicable to whatever is going on, to the point that when the lead singer Kate Jackson introduced herself to me at a solo gig (her solo stuff is also excellent by the way) I tried to explain all of this to her in breathless terms before I even knew what I was doing.
Whereas other musical obsessions have waned over the years, The Long Blondes, with their two full albums and their great singles and even a Christmas song. I finally completed my collection of everything they’ve ever released this time last year, when I finally came full circle, finding a 7″ of ‘Giddy Stratospheres’ with the last b-side I didn’t own on it. It’s title? ‘I’m Coping’, which for eight years and counting this wonderful band and this fantastic album have helped me to do.