There has always been something too perfect about Kate Jackson, erstwhile lead singer of The Long Blondes: hair too Toni and Guy; pencil skirt too ironed and new. She always seemed like the head girl at school- although, having recently heard her getting interviewed, she seems a sweetheart.
Unfortunately, the need for perfection could be her undoing. Having returned to Britain after some time off in Italy painting, her new solo project is as shiny and pristine as the architecture on her artwork would suggest. There is nothing ragged, no grit and sweat here- just a pop album with all the rough edges smoothed off.
That’s fine in its own way,as she has a nice way with a melody line, although nothing here matches up to the Long Blondes’ finely-honed indie pop. But boy, can it be bland. The End of Reason oddly melds the influence of Bowie’s Station to Station with Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield (sadly, with more of the latter than the former) and Metropolis apes the Manic Street Preachers’ guitar sound.
16 Years has Jackson like the girl in Pulp’s Common People, her cut-glass accent providing a wistful account of awkward love and thwarted dreams,while Wonder Feeling is a swaggering emulation of Britpop itself- all handclaps, 60s guitar by Bernard Butler and bounce. All very mannered and safe, really, but quite nice.
But when she really lets rip, it’s wonderful. Last of the Dreamers oozes melodrama and storytelling in that way that British artists like St Etienne and Marc Almond do so well- arch kitchen sink romanticism with delicate confessional vocals and piano.Lie to Me bounces like the Pretenders in their prime, with extra strings and gloss. Best of all is The Atlantic , emulating Bowie in all the right ways, with a big fat glam riff and ”ba da da da” backing. It sashays, and has enough grit under its fingernails to mean business.
More like this, please.
Out on 20th May on Hoo Ha Records.