My family used to take annual summer trips to places like Maine or Cape Cod or update New York and back before there were televisions in cars and certainly back before I had my own walkman I was subjected to “the oldies.” The funny thing is, the music is so ebullient there was no denying it. While I may have tried to resist at first before long listening to The Supremes, or Petula Clark or The Four Tops, The Four Seasons, The Spinners, The O’Jays all that stuff got my feet tapping and singing along to the predictable harmonies and melodic song structures.A lot of times when searching for the next great band or album, music critics and music lovers try to outsmart themselves. We convince ourselves that the atonal, or the monosyllabic is classy. That there is bliss in the discordant, when really what we want is the unabashed joy of listening to a band like Lucky Soul.
This Greenwich six-piece seems plucked straight from the early 1960’s, the five lads all look like super cool mods and lead singer Ali Howard has that bubbly blond beach blanket bingo thing going on. There is something refreshing about a band that sounds as if they collectively stopped listening to music around the height of Motown, the delectable British pop of Petula Clark, etc. etc. etc. Whereas The Pippettes sound like an ironic take on this type of music (which is not to say that we also don’t love that trio because we do), Lucky Soul (myspace) sounds like this is the music they not only grew up listening to, but as if all other music is merely superfluous.
The music is all exclamation points and shimmy-shakes and crescendoing horns, providing a sense of warmth and happiness. What’s refreshing is this album sounds timeless, that it could be from any era of music. Led by the beautiful Ali Howard (who’s only been with the guys since 2005), the band comes off as natural. There’s no preening or hipster-posturing to be found. They aren’t trying to sound retro they just are.
On their debut album, they rip through 13-tracks all swayable to. Before long you’ll be won over by their infectious joy. Whether it’s the overriding exuberance of “Get Outta Town!” full of pounding pianos, cowbells and horns (it was featured in a Payless Shoe Store ad no less), or the declaration to all the dorks out there on “Ain’t Never Been Cool.”
For me it doesn’t get better than the slow build of “The Towering Inferno.” There is a slinky, sexy quality to the song, when Howard sings out “believe me, believe me, the towering inferno inside me may one day consume me and define me / let it burn” she could be singing about a lover or she could be singing about anything one gets passionate about. It’s a glorious song.
The songs bounce from melancholy heartache to summertime bliss with choruses as wonderful as unicorns and hooks a fisherman could be proud of. This modern pop gem truly rewarding listeners with repeat spins. The Great Unwanted will definitely be among the best albums we listen to all year.
The Great Unwanted is out now on Ruffa Lane Records.
Take the jump for some videos from their new album, including “Add Your Light To Mine, Baby” and “Lips Are Unhappy”
Lips Are Unhappy
Add Your Light To Mine, Baby
My Brittle Heart
Meet the band (set to “Lips Are Unhappy)
Get Outta Town! Live at Brixton Jam 5/12/07