I always hated the Lightening Seeds. In this I was always painfully aware that my opinion was in the minority. For some strange reason they would set my teeth on edge. Musically they were tragic, pacified indie pop for grannies, the kind of nihilistically inane drivel that would have had Noriega coming out in seconds with his hands in the air. As for Ian Broudie himself, regardless of whether he was praising someone’s luck, wishing everything to be pure and simple, or telling his partner they should never change, it seemed to me that no sentiment was ever too simplistic or two dimensional that it couldn’t be sung about in an emotionless nasal whine for the longest three minutes of my life. If the Teletubbies were an indie band they’d sound like the lightening seeds. Where did their success come from, I’d ask myself? Who buys this shit? Some of my best friends as it turned out.
Much much later I began to have a more nuanced view of music and the world. Well at least that was my hope. Just because I didn’t like something didn’t mean that it wasn’t any good. Reading Andy Kershaw’s bio, “No off switch” I saw in him the ultimate expression of musical snobbery. His views on what was good or bad were absolute. Disagree with him and you were not just wrong, you were stupid and ignorant. His bile towards anyone that might have purchased Brothers in Arms was enough to make me put the book down for good with two thirds still to go. Sure I don’t like Dire Straits either, in fact I don’t know anyone who does. However if you do have this particular CD I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make you the bottom-dwelling pond life Kershaw would accuse you of being.
Where am I going with this? Well, I have to say that The End by The Ghosts made me think that I was listening to the lightening seeds all over again. Of course, lyrically Alex Starling (ex Ou Est Le Swimming Pool) is on a different level. Unlike Broudie there’s more on Starling’s mind than rhyming blue with true and moon with soon. Starling’s lost people dear to him, a friend and former band member Charles Haddon took his own life backstage at a gig, and his new band formed with drummer Ian Palmer is a means of expression, helping him to deal with the effects of this tragedy. As a piece of work it’s worthy and accomplished and deserves our support but, and here is where I’m sticking my head over the parapet, I just don’t like it. The sterile, indie-lite production and up-tempo arrangements are straight from the lightening seeds handbook, and Starling’s vocals are delivered in a Broudie-like emotionless falsetto that extracts all the impact from his heartfelt words. Does this mean that The End is a bad album? Of course not. If I was more pre-disposed to this kind of music I’d be latching on to The Ghosts as the ideal band. Like the Lightening Seeds but better, more depth, more three dimensional. It’s just that I’m not pre-disposed to this kind of music at all. I still hate it, and I still want a refund from Mr Broudie for the hours of my life I’ll never get back. So, I can’t recommend The End by The Ghosts but this is probably my problem not theirs, and hey, they could be right up your street. If so you’ll find music here that’s honest, emotional, accessible and true, so lucky you.
Oh god, I just did a Broudie!