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Life Is Sweet

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Album Review

The Lodger's debut album, Grown-Ups, was a fine slice of indie pop that called to mind stellar groups like Orange Juice, the Wedding Present, and Heavenly, while making a case that they might someday be mentioned in that same class. Life Is Sweet is a step forward in both sound and song, and goes a long way toward making this thought a reality. The newly configured trio is driven as before by Ben Siddall's ace songwriting and intimate vocal style, but on Life Is Sweet, the songwriting has gotten a bit sharper, trading some of the wordiness that often derailed Grown-Ups for a more refined approach. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the punchy and lyrically austere track "The Good Old Days." It's the kind of song that could overshadow the rest of the album, taking post-Postcard Orange Juice as inspiration, it sounds like a jumped up version of "I Can't Help Myself" with some thrilling falsetto and a huge hook. Luckily, the rest of the record is strong enough to withstand the threat of being swamped by the presence of such a monster song, and there are a few (the opening "My Finest Hour," the rocked-out "The Conversation," the brief but ultra-catchy "A Year Since Last Summer," and the country rocking of "Nothing (Left to Say)") that come close to the same rarefied air as "The Good Old Days" occupies. It helps too that the songs are played by a trio that is tighter than a baby tee, sounding at times like the Jam in the taut and ferocious attack. Unlike most indie pop bands, they choose to keep the sound pretty insular; apart from a slash of pedal steel here and a violin there, the sound is guitars, drums, and keys, and this focus creates a unified mood from song to song. Often a recipe for blandness, here the band's energy and craft keep things interesting and lively. With only a couple minor stumbles (like the overly wordy "Honey"), the solid and often thrilling Life Is Sweet is a confirmation of the promise made by Grown-Ups that firmly plants the Lodger at the head of the class of indie pop in the late 2000s.


Formed: 2004 in Leeds, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Though the Lodger were formed in 2004, indie pop fans who remember a time before the Strokes will find their chiming, artfully un-artful strummy guitar pop endearingly evocative of the twee pop sound of the 1980s and '90s. Strong echoes of the Wedding Present, the Smiths, Talulah Gosh and their offshoots, and seemingly dozens of others are inescapable in Ben Siddall's urgent up-and-down guitar riffs and his somewhat adenoidal boy-next-door vocals, which themselves sound directly inspired by the Television...
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