Album Review: The Lounge Society – Tired of Liberty (Speedy Wunderground)
Not many acts can boast the support of one of the most exciting independent labels in the country before they’ve heard back from their first-choice university, but The Lounge Society can. Not many acts can boast one of the most impressive EP’s of 2021 before they can legally rent a car, but The Lounge Society can. Not many acts can follow that EP up the following year with a debut, all while still being in the twilight of teen-dom, but The Lounge Society have done all of these things and more.
I was there when the bairns of Hebden Bridge first sounded their barbaric yawp across the valley bottoms of West Yorkshire. Generation Game, the band’s debut single, was a flag firmly stabbed in the ground of the ever-expanding British post-punk scene, not least because of the involvement of Dan Carey, Speedy Wundergrounds judge, jury and producer, who has been at the side of The Lounge Society since they have started to release their music.
This led me to be as excited for their debut album, Tired of Liberty, as I had been for any release this summer, but could they really deliver on the promise of their previous work?
In what feels like an unusual time warp back, the band – who had previous mastered the early 80’s post-punk sound – now seem to have reverted back to a band fresh out of the afterbirth of punk. Truly they seem to be the conduits of this, the blank generation (sorry Richard Hell, you were 45 years too early). People Are Scary, the opening track, epitomizes this feeling of anxiety. With a bouncy intro and driving guitars it’s a good opener, but the papery thin drums and an outro that lands little flat lets it down a bit. Fortunately, track 2 grabs the listener back by the scruff of the neck. Blood Money, a track that has grown on me is slowly now one of my favourites in the band’s discography, and easily one of the best on the album. The lyrics are really everything you can expect from TLS at this point and the guitar riff, which at times sounds like Johnny Marr being forced to play in the Ramones, is as memorable a punk riff as you will find today.
No Driver comes in at track 3, with great post-punk instrumentation, despite being pierced by what is ultimately a weak vocal performance by frontman Davey. At around 1:15 his vocals are reverted to a range where he seems far more comfortable, but unfortunately, a running theme of the album is a vocal stretch that takes the listener completely out of the experience. Beneath The Screen then kicks off the guts of the LP, featuring pumping instrumentation that keeps you on your toes and entertained. The midi sax line seemed a bit cheesy to me at first but it lends itself to the charm of the track quite nicely. North Is Your Heart has some running George of the Jungle drums that intrigues until the chorus (which unfortunately falls a little flat for me). In the past I have praised TLS for being so chameleonic, but the vocal line in this chorus seems so anti… good, that I just can’t get on board with, a real shame because the rest of the track is a decent enough listen and is followed by one of the best tracks on the album, Last Breath. The memorable lead single from the album is a great live experience with its call and response chorus. The vocals in the verse are just about pulled off, held up by the almost schizophrenic backing vocals that are slightly out of tune and can barely be heard, getting you to quest if one of the voices you’re hearing is in fact inside your head.
The back half of the album kicks off with Remains. Another strong track that trends the line that Tired of Liberty has set out up to this point, featuring one of Davey’s strongest vocal takes of the whole album. Boredom Is A Drug carries on in the same vein, with it’s almost delirious sweeping vocal and brilliant drums making the track memorable. It’s hard not to look forward to screaming along “has it hit yet” to the song when you get the chance to see the band live.
It’s Just A Ride marks the beginning of the end and extenuates the early Talking Heads-isms that feature throughout the album. This really feels like a mesh of a 1976 CBGB club night, with all the charm, or lack thereof, that is to be expected from that. Upheaval is the penultimate track on the album and, despite being a single before release, is for my money the weakest track on the album. The band just can’t seem to pull off the gentle, introspective track and the mix really feels like a music college band that has mixed the track themselves. It comes a little out of nowhere but is unfortunately very forgettable.
As previously mentioned, this whole album seems like a chronological step back for the band, summed up best by the final track, a re-do of their debut Generation Game. Parts of the track, namely most of the instrumentation and the mix, is admittedly improved by the do-over, but I can’t help but be disappointed by the finished product. Considering how far the band has come since they first released the single this track still feels like a bit of a regression. The backing vocals that pop up from time to time on lyrics like “happy, happy house” and “What will the US do?” just sound so cheap. They had a chance to make this a colossus closer but ended up with a wet flannel, especially to anyone familiar with the original.
Ultimately, the pitfalls this album has can’t be placed at the feet of the band, at least not all of them. The consistency of the mix is pretty nonexistent. For someone to say the same man that produced this had a hand in this year’s Wet Leg, Fontaines DC, Honeyglaze and Kate Tempest albums is perplexing. I’m almost certain that moving forward Dan Carey and the Lounge Society will produce fruitful ventures, but this album unfortunately just suffers from too many growing pains to be great, though a good time will be had by any previous fan of the band.
Tired Of Libertywill be released via Speedy Wunderground on 26 August 2022