Album Review: Life in Film – Here It Comes

By on Wednesday, 22nd April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Life in Film Here It Comes album coverOne of the most important milestones for a young band is the release of the debut album. Although they’ve been poking round under the radar for some time now, London-based indie pop/rock band Life in Film finally see this goal come to fruition next month with the release of ‘Here It Comes’. At the helm of production duties was Stephen Street, famous for his association with the Smiths and Morrissey’s subsequent first solo album ‘Viva Hate’, as well as his long production history with Blur that includes ‘The Magic Whip’, out next week.

Life in Film’s style is one based on the rugged, lovely simplicity of the guitar band, and without fancy tricks or crutches, something that has rung true for years with the supporters of The Crookes and The Postelles. With the basic rock band-building blocks of guitars, bass and drums, an amazing song framed by a memorable melody can be written and performed. That is, if talent is present in spades, which is the case with this band.

Several tunes familiar to long-time fans such as myself appear on ‘Here It Comes’. ‘The Idiot’, with frontman Samuel Fry’s lamenting of a relationship gone bad (“love is wasted on you / and you don’t have a clue”), is a corker but counterintuitively, its peppy melody and happy guitar notes belying the tone of regret. Its unleashing on an unsuspecting, uninitiated public should be interesting. ‘Needles and Pins’, the title track of their 2012 debut EP, is another winner, driven by a jaunty, jangly guitar hook that swims and swirls around in your head and refuses to leave. Album opener ‘Alleyway’ is a much newer song, yet smartly doesn’t stray too far from this formula, except to increase the vigour with more prominent drumming from Micky Osment.

Another newer song and ‘Here It Comes’ standout ‘Get Closer’ starts sweetly enough with xylophone and oohs. But the track has a melody that never stays very long in one place, so as you’re trying to keep up with the band and shout along with them, “get closer! Get closer! Get closer!”, it feels like you’re in the middle of a cardiovascular workout. An enjoyable one at that, in which the boy next door apologises to the girl he loves, “I’m sorry that it’s not quite how you thought this would be / it’s always the fucking same, always the same / come round, I’d really like to see you / we could watch the television, you could cook a pizza”; not exactly Shakespeare, I know, but endearing nonetheless. And this the song that got them called the British Vampire Weekend? Can someone please explain this? I’m lost.

While there are high energy, fun moments on the record, there are also slower ballads to provide some welcome emotional shade. With its complex guitar pickings by lefty Edward Ibbotson against a gorgeous string section, ‘Anna, Please Don’t Go’ is a rare beauty as Fry plaintively sighs, “Anna, please don’t go, your heart’s in the right place / don’t be fooled by pain, it comes but it goes away”. The strings make another welcome appearance on the tambourine-tinged ‘Forest Fire’. Another slower tempo highlight is ‘Carla’, which I first became aware of after watching a Watch Listen Tell session the band did in Stoke Newington Cemetery in 2009 (yes, 2009, you read that right). The album version showcases the band members’ harmonies and the lovely guitars, with the overall sound as rich as its lyrical content.

I find it somewhat ironic that while title track ‘Here It Comes’ has a definite good time Charlie feel and has the makings of a summer festival anthem, its YOLO / carpe diem sentiment and yelps for “fun fun fun!” feels forced with this group. As much as I enjoy bands getting away from the topics of love and ending relationships, a band like Life in Film who are so good at writing such songs and making them memorable should refrain from fixing it if it ain’t broke.

8.5/10

Life in Film’s debut album ‘Here It Comes’ will be released on the 4th of May on ECC Records. They are currently on tour in North America supporting Liverpool’s the Wombats. For previous TGTF coverage on Life on Film, head here.

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