Lightships – ‘Electric Cables’ [Geographic]

As a founding member and one of the main songwriters in legendary Scots indie janglers Teenage Fanclub, Gerry Love is no stranger to a catchy hook or a dreamy melody. His contribution to the three-pronged songwriting duties of the Fannies include the beautiful, Big Star-echoing Ain’t That Enough and top 40 hit Sparky’s Dream and it’s the languid warmth of the former that Love’s Lightships project conjures up here.

When you’ve been a mainstay of a group with such a distinctive sound for over two decades it must be hard to break out of that mould and try something different so it’s perhaps no surprise that Electric Cables isn’t a million miles away from the Teenage Fanclub sound. That said, this is a sun-kissed breath of summer of an album; broader in scope and undoubtedly more ambitious than a Fanclub record. Opener Two Lines sets the ethereal tone with a chiming intro giving way to delicately plinked keyboards and luscious harmonies which melt into a late-night, surf-breaking-on-the-shore fade out. Lead single, Sweetness In Her Spark, is a gorgeous piece of Pacific-Coast highway sunshine pop; all airy vocals and arpeggio guitar. I listened to my review copy on the sunniest and warmest day of the year so far – definitely in keeping with the feel of the album.

The tracks stand up really nicely on their own but it’s as a whole piece I think Electric Cables works best. It’s the sound of a day in the park with your mates; ideally Glasgow’s Kelvingrove, followed by a beer or two in a West End hostelry en route home. It’s that kind of record.

The press for Electric Cables says it’s “an album of tender observational songs, played with an invigorating and easy sense of purpose; the sound of friends enjoying one another’s company and allowing ideas and experiments to flourish.” It’s certainly that – the choice of collaborators is inspired and brings a new dimension to Love’s songs. The graceful flute of Tom Crossley and Jim McCulloch’s adroit clarinet in particular give songs like Every Blossom a real lift whilst ex-Fanclub drummer Brendan O’Hare’s subtle stickwork on Girasol is a joy to behold.

This kind of “summery” sounding record often ends up with the adjective shimmering, which it undoubtedly is, glorious harmonies, rising and falling beats and a feeling of warmth all combining to conjure up warm weather and beaches. Electric Cables is all these things, but I’m going to go for effulgent – which my dictionary tells me means “shining; glowing in appearance” – a fitting epithet for Lightships, I reckon.

Five stars. Get it bought!

[Rating:5]

Electric Cables is released on Domino Records imprint Geographic on the 2nd of April.

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