The new album from Sheffield's Long Blondes, 'Couples', is an almost fresh start for the band that might upset a few fans. The Long Blondes have ditched some of the glam punk guitars for more of a disco-pop sound. Helped by producer Erol Akan, the album chugs along with 10 well crafted pop songs. Worries that Erol would completely change the bands sound are completely unwarranted. Some may say that the band has jumped on the current 'electro' bandwagon but I think they're simply evolving, as they should. They just happen to be using some of the same tools that other bands are using to get them where they want to go.
The album kicks off with 'Century', a very disco sounding track that has Kate Jackson singing to us "Nothing is sacred". Tracks like 'I Liked The Boys' and 'Too Clever By Half' show off Kate's distinctive (Debbie Harry-esque) vocals and songs like 'Round The Hairpin' focus more on the band and have Kate whispering the lyrics to us as if it's all one big secret. There are still some shout-filled choruses, such as on 'Here Comes The Serious Bit' which is an absolute stormer. "Nostalgia' , a more down tempo song, has an almost Jarvis Cocker feel to it and the album closer 'I'm Going To Hell' starts off like it could be a new Nancy Sinatra song before going full blast into a (Meatloaf sounding) piano and guitar driven groove.
This album is somewhat of a mixed bag as it has hints of the first album and then songs that are sizable departure for the band. In the end, with the mix of catchy riffs, thumping bass and Kate's sultry voice the casual listener should have no problem enjoying this album. I would point out however, that this album (to me) is a transition album. The Long Blondes have started to branch out and grow and hopefully by their third album we will get to hear what this album only hints at, a band with an idea of where they want to go but a destination still to reach. 'Couples' is a good second album that anyone should be able to like and nice way point for the band as they move on their way to finding themselves.
7 out of 10