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The Lost Star

The Orchids

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Album Review

When the legendary indie pop group the Orchids re-formed in the mid-2000s, the first album they made (2007’s Good to Be a Stranger) was standard-issue guitar pop that did nothing to tarnish their legend, but also didn’t add much to it, either. For the follow-up, 2010’s The Lost Star, the band made the ace decision to call up Ian Carmichael, the producer they'd worked with closely to create classic albums and singles back in the '90s. Back then, Carmichael brought a willingness to experiment with sound and arrangements that opened up the band’s sound and made them true innovators (even if barely anyone outside the insular world of indie pop noticed). While it would be wrong to expect The Lost Star to be as interesting or satisfying as Unholy Soul, for example, you’d be dead right if you hoped it would be an improvement on Good to Be a Stranger. The songs are stronger, the production is weird and unpredictable, and James Hackett’s voice (always the main draw of the band) sounds better than it did on Stranger. He sounds more confident and invested in the emotions behind the songs; definitely much more sure of himself. In retrospect, the reunion album almost seems like a formality that had to be taken care of in order for the band to get back to making classic records. Not classic in the way the old ones were, but classic in the sense that it sounds perfectly right the first time you listen. As soon as a track like "The Okay Song" (which features the lovely backing vocals of longtime contributor Pauline Hynds) comes on, you’re transported back to a time when the Orchids mattered to indie kids the world over. There are moments like that all over The Lost Star, thanks to Hackett’s singing, Carmichael’s production, and the intensity and skill the band add to the proceedings. The album's not perfect by any means, and that’s fine because even at their peak, the band threw in the occasional clunker, but The Lost Star compares favorably to the band’s output when they were at their best. What more can you hope for from any band 20 years plus years after they began?

Biography

Formed: 1986 in Penilee, Scotland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most prolific bands on Bristol, England's legendary indie pop label Sarah Records, the Orchids were also one of the label's most press-shy outfits. Formed in 1986 in Penilee, Scotland, a suburb of Glasgow, the Orchids took their initial inspiration from some of the city's better-known acts of the time, particularly Lloyd Cole and the Commotions (singer James Hackett sounded more than a little like Cole and was often derided in the U.K. press for that resemblance) and Primal Scream during...
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The Lost Star, The Orchids
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