Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Long Blondes, Someone to Drive You Home (Rough Trade)

Stylish U.K. post-punks revive Brit-pop with girl-powered cautionary tales

Many of rock's finest moments result from a perfect balance of style and substance. Acts like David Bowie, the Clash and the Pretenders all made classic music that looked as influential as it sounded. U.K. upstarts the Long Blondes aim to carry that torch, coupling muscular but melodic post-punk guitar tunes recalling the best of ’90s Brit-pop with an impeccable sense of style.

Much of the band's stylistic leanings come courtesy of singer Kate Jackson (pictured), who's become a major British fashion icon over the past couple of years. She also happens to write girl-powered wordplays that sound like Pulp if Jarvis Cocker was a beret-wearing babe preaching cautionary tales to those barreling towards the pain and frustrations of womanhood.

While the band—Dorian Cox (guitars), Emma Chaplin (keyboards), Reenie Hollis (bass) and Screech (drums)—bashes out hard-charging pop that sounds like a toughed-up take on The Smiths' six-string majesty, Jackson warns her constituency about unrequited love ("Lust in the Movies"), objects of affection trapped in boring relationships ("Giddy Stratospheres") and being the reluctant but willing other woman for double-timing lotharios ("You Could Have Both"), all in a world-weary, husky croon akin to Chrissie Hynde's wounded tough chick stance.

In Jackson's worldview (via lyrics mostly written by Cox), it's a hard road for twentysomething females in the modern world. Times are so tough that even other ladies are cause for concern, as she bemoans during "In the Company of Women": "In the company of women, that's when I start to worry/What has she got, that I might not?"

The Long Blondes may not arrive with the same hype-heavy buzz of many of their contemporaries, but with an album as strong and effective as Someone to Drive You Home, it's only a matter of time before they leave a lot of the competition in the dust. And look fabulous doing it.