The Lodger: Cul-De-Sac of Love
DL | LP
The Lodger return with their first album in over 10 years, Cul-De-Sac Of Love. Andy Brown dusts off his dancing shoes and heads down the imaginary indie-disco to review the album for Louder Than War.
Suitably enough for an indiepop act, The Lodger began life in a bedsit in Leeds sometime around 2004. You can practically smell the carefree days and corner shop red wine on the bands’ early releases. With the support of local label Dance To The Radio, songwriter Ben Siddall did what every aspiring musician in a bedsit should do and formed a band. Three albums and favourable comparisons to everyone from The Wedding Present to The Housemartins followed. It feels right then that the band’s first album in 11 years arrives courtesy of Wakefield DIY label Philophobia Music; a label that’s been quietly releasing brilliant and truly independent music since 2008.
“I’ll never be a millionaire or fight a war” sings Siddall on the albums opening track, Black And White (Pete’s Song) “but there must be more to life than this so why can’t someone explain?” That last line in particular seems to resonate as we stumble between lockdowns. The song takes on further relevance when you discover that the Pete in question is Pete Sykes, former guitarist in This Many Boyfriends, songwriter for Men Only, and a friend of Siddall’s that passed away suddenly in 2011. Although I don’t know the guys in The Lodger, Pete was also a good friend of mine. Siddall has said that the song was written around 2006 and was actually one Pete’s favourites. It’s a really great song (Pete had brilliant taste) and a lovely nod to a Leeds legend and a much-missed friend.
Picking up where the band left us in 2010, the trio create beautifully effortless indiepop with all the melody and melancholy that your perpetually-wounded heart could possibly desire. I don’t live in a bedsit anymore (it’s a flat, don’t you know) but that inexplicably indie feeling flows through every groove in Cul-De-Sac Of Love. The kind of sound that makes you want to spin around the room like an overly excited Robert Smith. The ideal soundtrack to that near-mythical summer and the subsequent heartbreak. The kind of indie we may one day (hopefully!) be listening to in an independent venue again.
The album focusses on bright, harmonious hooks and memorable melodies; each song destined to take up permanent residence in your music addled mind. The clean, crisp production on the album highlights Siddall’s superb ear for an infectious indiepop tune. Just listen as the perfect pop of Dual Lives flows into the shimmering brilliance of Wasting My Time With You. Bassist Joe Margett and drummer Bruce Renshaw lay down some exceptionally limber grooves on I’m Over It (Get Over It). It’s here the trio deliver a sun-dappled, indie-disco hip-shaker for the ages. Siddall’s excitable guitar work lies somewhere between Orange Juice and Nile Rodgers. Perfect Fit on the other hand sees hearts swell over a lush mellotron and string synth arrangement: “Won’t you be my perfect fit? / We can find our perfect hit / Our parents will stay together and our last dance will last forevermore”.
The title track sits proudly at the centre of the album and manages to capture the LP’s breezy, melancholic charm as it builds to a brilliantly euphoric conclusion. Stop That Girl! delivers immaculate electronic pop while I Don’t Wanna Be It serves up beautiful widescreen heartache with shades of the mighty Teenage Fanclub. I Think I’ll Start Again lifts a few tricks from Johnny Marr before Former Life finds Siddall wrestling with the past over nostalgia drenched Casiotone organs. The blissful simplicity of No No No is followed by the persuasive, melancholic pop of There Is Something In My Eye before the sad-eyed country of My Poor Mind sends us on our way with suitably world-weary, lovelorn grace. “I feel I’m going backwards/ like a car that’s in reverse” pines Siddall over the gorgeous, lap-steel backing “And I try so hard but I always make it worse”.
With melodies and soaring choruses to spare, the album is an absolute embarrassment of riches. I can’t imagine hearing better examples of indiepop than the likes of Perfect Fit or Black And White this year. Cul-De-Sac Of Love may just be the bands finest hour, it’s certainly the finest indiepop album I’ve heard in some time. As fun as a night on the town and as comforting as a night in with all your favourite records. When the dancing and swooning comes to an end, you might even pick up that guitar that’s been gathering dust in the corner of your room and form a band of your own.
Cul-De-Sac Of Love is a joint release between a handful of cool indie labels. Available on Bandcamp here: Philophobia Music (UK), Pretty Olivia Records (Spain) and We Were Never Boring (Italy/ USA). Pick it up via Lazyperfection if you’re in Japan.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.