The Long Blondes

By - Jun 1st, 2008 02:52 pm


If Kate Jackson, vocalist and co-songwriter for the Long Blondes, were really the “glamorous punk” she proclaims herself to be, she’d understand that it takes time before an “out” trend can become “in” again. Still, her Sheffield, England-based five-piece insists on reconstituting what Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party did better just a few years ago.

Angular post-punk guitars and new-wave synth are go-to on their sophomore release, but Jackson’s voice puts a unique stamp on the boys’-club genre. Her whimper is solid, backed by snarls from bassist Reenie Hollis and keyboardist Emma Chaplin on tracks like “Here Comes the Serious Bit,” a vivacious romp about emotionally listless hookups. But when something more exact is required (“Nostalgia,” “Century”), she wavers. The undeterred Jackson continues to challenge her larynx’s limits on drag-racing, trash can stomp “Round the Hairpin,” but in this instance, risk pays off and compliments the song’s reckless overtones.

Driving the album’s relationship concept home, songs about slip-ups in fidelity and perpetually being the third wheel – “Guilt” and “The Couples,” respectively – possess peak pop danceability. Though the Blondes pointedly avoid the autobiographical in their songwriting, taking on perspectives from country bumpkin to jet-setter, they must get out of their heads and be less procedural. The Blondes think they’re clever, they think they’re smart, but they’re “just too clever by half,” says the song titled by those lyrics. Fashion lesson number two for Miz Jackson: the coolest girl in the room is always the most effortless.

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