Back when this blog was a mere twinkle in Rave Boss’ ear it was already decided between him and myself that The Long Blondes where the greatest band to come from Sheffield since Pulp.
Easily the best from their mid 00s classmates, their mix of the 1950/60s British glamour, retro references and ‘Northern’ humour made them stand out.
If we are being honest the Long Blondes might have had more good songs than Pulp.
Kate Jackson‘s solo album has been six years in the making and her band. The Wrong Moves, backs her as she releases British Roadside Movies.
The tone of the record takes off from Couples, the last Long Blondes LP.
Grown up problems on a personal level for many of Jackson’s generation – home ownership, forming families and traditional paths to adulthood in the world post 2008.
Even this record was stalled due to this, as Jackson said financing the album was difficult.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, as the album also has songs about getting pissed on a plane and having an arsehole father; normcore.
’16 years’ has a hushed line that could almost be a thought of the woman in ‘Common People’, “I wish I said how much I wanted to be ordinary, like you”.
As time passes the imagination of the character wondering is the relationship going to lead to children and stability.
Whereas Pulp’s writing was more a broad wash, Jackson is more personal in her descriptions of characters and their issues.
Jackson’s eye for the landscape of Britain is tailored like that of Jonathan Meades.
We can tell from the aesthetic of the visuals and descriptions that it is the new town Brutalism of the post-war era that generates the landmarks in this tour.
The songs can be visualised as the glam chunks that are pieced together to make the loving vehicles of catchy would be pop hits.
The same as the new towns were to grow a healthy new modern society.
Sonic references to The Lodger/Heroes by David Bowie are immediately clear when listening to tracks such as ‘Metropolis’ and ‘The Atlantic’.
‘Last of the Dreamers’ continues with the 1970s references in the form of luxury yacht shaggers Roxy Music.
Not purely a romp down Top of the Pops 2, Jackson’s vocals are smoother and more controlled that the Autonomy Boy days.
They glide up and down her vocal range with ease; this control and maturity comes across more in the subject matter of the album.
Partially due to being such a fan of her previous group this album is in the shadow or a continuation of it, depending on your point of view.
Turns of phrase and points of view constantly remind and seemingly reference the characters in songs such as ‘Five Ways to End It’.
I could go on, but that is just nostalgia.
British Road Movies is a solid solo debut that deserves a wider play that I assume it will get since the media that once championed this type of release has now all but gone, however it does give an extra incentive to attend her live show.
Here you see and feel the traditional indie guitar system of doing things; this is probably the most retro thing about the whole situation.
Words: Paul Choi