“1995! It’s the year…”
That’s how I started this review but actually not an awful lot was happening. Diana’s interview with Martin Bashir was this year and Rose West was found guilty… Ok… What was going on in music?
Now that’s a little more meaty – the year of Oasis vs. Blur, Michael Jackson’s Earthsong, and, well, Cotton Eye Joe. Britpop is getting very toothy and from this haze emerges an act that would not be unfairly labelled Easy Listening.
The album opens with the song that captured the nation; this is Lifted. I think I can roughly express the spirit of Lighthouse Family as: “Oh that’s the name of who did this song.” Lifted is a fine start to this album. It’s not particularly adventurous but it’s a warm arrangement of a nice relaxed song that takes advantage of some really safe but constant harmonies, strong choruses and a rather good African inspired drumbeat. This is of course following Disney’s feature film The Lion King and I might just slowly point my cynical fingers at Circle of Life from this movie but to do so with an scathing look would make me totally incorrect.
Now, if you were around and a follower of the singles charts when Lighthouse Family were popping up, you might do well to just listen to the tracks on this album that you never heard. I’m not claiming that you haven’t been served chicken soup, but I am pointing out it’s been served with croutons, cayenne pepper and an interesting Focaccia (oh for God’s sake man would you like any more stereotypical middle class stereotypes).
The next two tracks on the album really do flirt with light R & B: Heavenly and Loving Every Minute are very much following the lovely lilt with funk memories, complete with the backing trumpet that complements the tracks. The spice is mild but present. Note: Actually I was wrong here – the latter track got a single release but I still think perhaps some more exploration is necessary
Ocean Drive is the track that may be best known on the album and I don’t think there’s much I can say. It’s solid enough with a replayability and should be played with a warm smile on your face while you play but let’s progress.
What I want to point out about this album is its memorable and catchy melodies and harmonies. There are constant and continuous motifs that just stick with you and occasionally will get in your head in the day making you think “who on earth did that?” or “what song is that again?”. The arrangements are competent enough and I think it has inspired a little soapbox point from me.
I want to point out that so many people try in all fields of life: be it english, art, music or any other field would do well to remember that in order to produce something good and worthwhile that you need to know the rules properly and have a good comprehension of these principles before truly understanding how to break said rules effectively. I mean I don’t know whether I want it on my grave necessarily but I want to create the quote: Know your circle of fifths before writing a song that has nothing to do with it. The reason I bring this up is that this album shows a clear comprehension for musicality and a knowledge of how to write something pleasant. I also think it’s a tad too conforming in its style but I am not going to scorn the student who wears his tie up to the collar and tucks his shirt in. (Yes that was me.)
I don’t think the album is faultless – I think the use of synths / electronic techniques can be somewhat hit and miss and I can present Sweetest Operator as an example of overproduction but Beautiful Night is definitely scratches my production itch… somewhat.
As for the progression – it’s a sensibly paced album and the final track is definitely a track that is screaming “this is our last message”. It’s clinically put together but honestly I don’t want to look too closely. I stand between you people! I want to rip apart some music and I want to really indulge the complexity of invention and counter-culture but God dammit I am not going to spit on the mainstream! This is aimed squarely in that oh-so-disparaged genre of pop but what is wrong with that. People can be fickle but art doesn’t have to be.
Is this album for you?
Alright I think I’ve made my position clear, my scores will show my thoughts and I’ve coined one or two phrases that I can blushingly (to my credit or detriment) say are mine. Here is one. This album is by and large Chicken Soup Music and by that I mean you aren’t going to go delving to get something ultimately complicated that is made for your own musical tastes and niches. There’s nothing wrong with it – some is really pleasant – some is great – some is tedious. It’s not always my cup of tea but if I turn my nose up when being offered a nice soup, I’m a snob. Don’t be a snob!
- Writing: 7/10 (Well done)
- Performance: 6/10 (A tad uninspired)
- Style: 6/10 (Chicken Soup)