Lovejoy

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

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A record inspired by frontman Richard Preece's contempt for the pop culture phenomenon of looking to television to make our lives better, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? takes aim at the program of the same name, as well as lotteries, makeover shows, and all similar broadcasts full of equally empty promises of happiness that can be purchased or won. Hailing from Brighton, England, Lovejoy crafts songs that linger lovingly on the ethereal notes often associated with shoegaze one moment, and then channel bits of Richard Butler's straightforward pop genius the next. Morsels of lo-fi electronic elements are mixed in as well, most notably on "Snow Falling Softly (Bent Fabric Mix)." While the swirling layers of guitars and watery vocals on a track like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" prove a strong and compelling slice of shoegaze-peppered splendor, it is with the more frank acoustic guitar driven numbers that Lovejoy really shines. Perhaps the album's finest track, "The Beat Hotel," (a cover of a song by Biff Bang Pow!, a group led by Creation Records head Alan McGee) is built on an acoustic foundation and is made magnificent by the gorgeous interplay of vocals between Preece and backing vocalist Ally Board. The sparkling contrast of Preece's soft-spoken, almost monotone vocals and Board's wispy delivery is perfect throughout the record. "Night On Earth" is a bit darker in tone, but works equally well, offering up glimpses of groups like Echo and the Bunnymen and the Church in the process. The title track gets the remix treatment by the Snowdrops and the Sheriff in the form of "Millionaire. . .Maybe," which finds the track constructed of fragmented lyrics posing the looming question "Who wants to be a millionaire?" interspersed with a track of a small child saying "I don't want to be a millionaire." However, as the song closes, a man asks the child this question again, and the answer is "yes, please." Perhaps all of this is a bit of artsy cynicism on Lovejoy's part, but it's an interesting, often gripping concept nonetheless. The album wraps up with "Don't You (Wish You'd Never Met Me)?" which, much as the title implies, is a slice of melancholia with an achingly sad refrain worthy of Morrissey himself.

Overall, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? is a strong collection of wistful indie pop, likely to go over well with fans of the Creation Records scene, as well as groups like the Screen Prints, Lucksmiths, the Green Pajamas, and those who can't get enough of the sweet boy-girl vocal interplay that rose to prominence in the underground in the early '90s.

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