Twice and Never Again
In 2008, The Long Blondes had to called it quits after guitarist/lyricist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke that left his future uncertain. This occurred mere months after the release of Couples, their follow-up to the formidable Someone to Drive You Home. It also turned a promising if uneven expansion of the band’s sound into an unintentional swan song, leaving listeners forever wondering what might have been. Lyrically, this album is a logical progression of the themes explored on its predecessor. Where Someone dealt with the trials and tribulations of courtship and sexual exploration, Couples paints a cynical portrait of what happens when one outgrows all of that. The title track says it best: “”I used to come here to have a good time / But I could feel like this at home.”” Vocalist Kate Jackson gives these lyrics conviction with her trademark blend of sass and sweetness.
ame The music itself is where the group starts to stray from their beaten path. They enlisted UK club producer Erol Alkan for help with their compositions. This was a pairing of vast potential, especially given the dance floor prowess with B-sides like “”Five Ways to End It”” and “”Who Are You to Her.”” That potential is further demonstrated in the opening one-two punch of “”Century”” and “”Guilt,”” which suggest what Blondie’s “”Heart of Glass”” would sound like when broken beyond repair.
The songs that follow, however, donâ€šÃ„Ã´t always play to Alkan’sâ€šÃ„Ã®or the band’sâ€šÃ„Ã®strengths. “”Round the Hairpin”” is one big Autobahn to nowhere, while “”Erin Oâ€šÃ„Ã´Connor”” just dilutes the fan-worship of previous single “”Lust in the Movies”” with uncharacteristically blunt percussion and weaker celebrity references.
ame It’s obvious with Couples that The Long Blondes were still figuring things out, amongst themselves and with their sound. It’s really a shame that they’ll never get their happy ending now.