Electric Cables

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After over 20 years playing in Teenage Fanclub and a few playing with the Pastels, Lightships is Gerard Love's first crack at a solo career. Gathering up friends like Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian, Tom Crossley of International Airport, and original TFC drummer Brendan O'Hare, Love spent time between TFC records and tours crafting a beguiling album that has roots in the chiming guitar pop sound he helped create but is far more atmospheric and low-key. Love's songs in the Fanclub are often the band's most direct and powerfully pop, but on Electric Cables he approaches the songs much more subtly, burying the rhythm guitars deep in the mix and adding all kinds of sound on top. His (and Dave McGowan's) guitar lines snake around the melodies gracefully, Crossley's flute floats through like a peaceful bird, and the album is swimming in tremolo and delay but not so much that it buries the beauty of Love's melodies and the heartwarming quality his vocals (both alone and in harmony) effortlessly transmit. A good reference point to the sound of Lightships would be "Vivid Youth," the enchanting song Love co-wrote on the Pastels/Tenniscoats album Two Sunsets. Like that song, the bulk of the album here has a late-autumn feel, very pastoral and peaceful with only the stray loud chorus (as on the uplifting "Silver and Gold") to break the mood a little. Even the tracks that up the tempo and/or dynamics a little (like "Stretching Out" or the truly lovely "Sweetness in Her Spark") are so coated in flutey atmosphere that they seem quietly dozy in the best possible way. Love's introspective lyrics and comforting voice are a half-made bed beckoning you back for a late-afternoon nap; the sound of the record is like the warm and cozy comforter on that bed. Shaking loose of the sweet and calming spell the album casts is as hard as waking up on a stormy fall afternoon. Electric Cables is the best record to come out of the TFC camp in a long time; the other guys in the band will no doubt be justifiably proud of Gerard's artistic success, but might also be wondering why he didn't save some of the songs and sonic imagination for the group's next outing. Regardless of how his bandmates might feel, those who like their indie pop filled with soft light and tender beauty will fall in love with this album quite easily.

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