19 October 2008

The Late Edition: Ladyhawke

Sending yourself back while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground? It's what this girl does for a living

Hmmm, so I guess you could say that since this post comes about 3 weeks too late since that's when I actually got the album through the mail that I haven't been doing my job properly! Still, you could also say that it's given me time to fully appreciate the full length and breadth of the album and not just give a general overview.

But then I don't want to blab on forever (which is possible, believe me, but I really don't want to!)

Ladyhawke's album has a wide range of lyrics on it the more you listen to them. Sometimes you think she's just going to stick to the subject of love like on "Back of the Van" - who cares if it was written about a woman anyway!? - but then she veers on to the subject of bad dreams on "Dusk Till Dawn", and drinking and dancing the night away in everyone's favourite European captial on "Paris Is Burning".

Okay, maybe not as wide as some people might like but hey! This album is really about the atmosphere created on it. As my little opening paragraph suggests, she draws on great influence from her 80s icons but while you can hear this there's still an element of bringing this kind of pop right back into modern day. This is most evident when the album progresses into the second half and songs like "Paris Is Burning" and "Professional Suicide" (a great little malicious song attacking people who make comebacks decades after splitting, thus "you had a hit in '89/too bad we don't all age as good as wine"). The retro elements are there in abundance on tracks like "Another Runaway", "Love Don't Live Here" and brilliant "Better Than Sunday" but sometimes the best songs are the ones that give a nice blend between the two...

So step up "Manipulating Woman", probably the best song on the whole album. Can we all really relate to the story of a girl spreading rumours and breaking up friends for her own gain and enjoyment? Possibly yes, which is why I like the song. I think Ladyhawke gets her revenge in this song, singing "you must be used to the pain" as if she's stabbed this woman in the back with a sharp pencil. This particular song has obvious retro elements with the synths in the background but then the guitars and drums sound pretty up-to-date and so you get this wonderful mish-mash of old and new. A bit like the soundtrack to the clothes we're all supposed to wearing now. This version is a re-recording of the one she's had on her MySpace for ages now, and the first time I listened to it the dynamic difference and added malice blew me away. The extra time in the studio really paid off!

Poor Pip Brown probably won't get anywhere fast in the music biz right now - we're too bogged down in rubbishy American "starlets" to even give the slightest nod of recognition to this shy New Zealand girl. It's a real shame, but then the people at Modular Records should have a firm pat on the back for making sure that her album has at least seen the light of day. It's a real gem.

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