The Long Blondes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am

The Long Blondes


(Rough Trade)

Much of the hype surrounding the Long Blondes is from the fact they seem to care as much about their image as their music. The glam punk style of frontwoman Kate Jackson placed her in NME's top 10 cool list and The Guardian newspaper's fashion pages and, perhaps if you saw them live, it might be a good thing if their looks detracted from their music. That's because 'Couples', the second album from the English five-piece, is a disappointing offering.

Opener and single Century is the strongest track of the album and one of two songs written by Jackson. It replaces the band's trademark indie jangly guitar sound with 80s synth pop laid onto an addictive tune.

And it makes best use of Jackson's vocals, which have been criticised for being weak.

Guilt has the sound of fellow Sheffield band Pulp and Jackson's delivery shows why her voice has been compared to Deborah Harry, but even though it bounces along pleasantly enough it hasn't the wit to make it a great track. The Couples does better, seeming to lament the loneliness of Jackson's new image as one of the sexiest women in English pop, but from thereon it's downhill. Round the Hairpin, for example, strives for atmosphere, but the combination of weak lyrics and whispered vocals makes it sound silly. It isn't until the final track, I'm Going to Hell, descends into raucous driving drums that things get better.

For the future, the Long Blondes' affectation - note the quotation marks that form part of the album's title - needs to be redirected away from their thrift shop suits and on to their songs.