Lightships | DNO320
It's no secret that within Domino there is a lot of love for Teenage Fanclub, and that some members of staff have a special fondness for the songs of singer, songwriter and bassist, Gerard Love. In recent times, Gerard has been very much part of The Pastels, who operate occasional Domino imprint, Geographic. The idea of an album of Gerard Love songs burned for a long time until eventually label enthusiasm prevailed, and Gerard agreed that it was an idea that he too was excited about.
From the outset, Gerard was clear that he wanted to establish a group name for the record, a name that was evocative and ambiguous, that could somehow place the music within a slightly blurry and imagined context. He didn't want to give the impression that the record was just about him. Having settled on the name, Lightships, he sought out a cast of Glasgow-based friends to play on the record that was starting to take shape in his head; Dave McGowan (guitar, Teenage Fanclub), Brendan O'Hare (drums, from the first incarnation of Teenage Fanclub), Tom Crossley (flute, International Airport and The Pastels) and Bob Kildea (bass, Belle & Sebastian).
Liberated by a feeling that he had complete carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, Gerard came to a realisation that the key to the sound of the record would be tremolo, delay and flute. At times the record has the dynamics of a soundtrack, as one of Tom Crossley’s flute lines weaves into the ether and Gerard’s vocals bounce off each other. Or, as on Sweetness In Her Spark, the group lock into a relaxed and breezy groove that demands the windows be flung open.
Lightships is a name that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the music - sparkling and radiant and illuminated throughout by Love’s melodic gifts and taste for adventurous arrangements. The overall sound, while as warm and immediate as the songs Gerard writes for Teenage Fanclub, is more free flowing and loose. Muddy Rivers is carried along on a wave of interlocked instrumentation while Photosynthesis is a hazy wash of flutes and echo. On Silver And Gold, Gerard sings with a falsetto before a chorus of harmonies bursts into life. With this music it’s as if he was looking to express something more personal, eccentric and introspective.
Electric Cables is an album of tender, observational songs, played with an invigorating and easy sense of purpose; the sound of friends enjoying one another’s company and allowing ideas and experiments to flourish. It's a complex and rewarding record that you'll want to keep coming back to. Slow illumination.