Rumours have it that The Long Blondes’ second is the latest in a long line of classic break-up albums. Such a conclusion seems obvious given the recent change in inter-band relationships, the tales of love gone awry contained within and that title, “Couples”.
However, whilst it would be wrong to dismiss these biographical readings completely, it would be equally erroneous to consider this record a latter-day Blood On The Tracks. This is no memoir: instead of specifics, it evokes a mood of romantic dishevelment, the sort of album onto which the listener can project their own yearnings.
Musically, they veer from pop with panache to the wilfully weird. The first half of the album is distinguished by more obviously tuneful material. Songs such as ‘The Couples’ and ‘I Liked The Boys’ play puppet-master with our heartstrings, whilst ‘Guilt’ flaunts a melodic form chiselled from god’s own quarry. Halfway through and we are taken ‘Round The Hairpin’ into a domain of beats bizarre and thoughts fantastical. Bearing the inimitable brand of producer Erol Alkan, these later tracks, most notably ‘Nostalgia’ and ‘Too Clever By Half’, mark a definite point of departure from the band’s debut.
If they can continue to couple songwriting brilliance with a desire to progress, then our love affair with the Long Blondes will long endure.