Oh, we DO like to pigeon hole our music, don’t we? So – is ‘Black Summer,’ the debut album from Brighton’s Teasing Lulu, punk or is it rock, or is it or maybe even indie-pop? Who cares? What it IS, is a good solid noisy fusion of all those… and some! OK – so it’s not exactly ground breaking and innovative, but who says music must meet these criteria to qualify it as enjoyable?
Teasing Lulu are principally Lucy on lead vocals and guitar, and Louisa on bass and backing vocals. They are supplemented by the presence of Jason on drums. Together they have supported an impressive array of bands including The Dead Kennedys, The Damned, Penetration and The Stranglers. Indeed, legendary Stranglers’ bass guitarist Jean Jacques Burnel it was who produced this album.
It is no surprise then that the bass line is so very prevalent throughout ‘Black Summer.’ The opening track, ‘The Ex-Factor’ starts out with a bass riff and drums sounding not dissimilar to Eddie Cochrane’s, ‘C’Mon Everybody’, which can only be good. However, it soon finds its own identity with a deep, dark, throbbing heavy beat overlaid with Lucy’s guitar and vocals. Previously released as a single, it is one of the strongest tracks on the album and certainly grabs the listener’s attention from the outset.
This is followed by current single, ‘Waste of Time.’ A strong, hooky chorus is preceded by angry thrashing of instruments and harmonised vocals. ‘I’m So Bored’ sounds vaguely familiar – well, a bit more than that. Listen to this track a couple of times and tell me it doesn’t remind you of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘ Since You’ve Been Gone.’ Not all the way through, but certainly in bits of the chorus in particular. Maybe that’s not a ‘cool’ thing to say, but hey – didn’t Ms Clarkson sell shit-loads of records ….. and still does?
The album tends to follow the same ‘safe’ formula throughout – heavy bass, strong concise vocals and harmonies and big guitar riffs. Well, if it works there’s no point in ‘fixing’ it, is there?
Other tracks worthy of note include D.I.H. which is a bit faster paced and more punky in attitude and style, what with the shouted ‘hey, hey’ interspersing the chorus. ‘Loser’ is my personal favourite with the vocals taking on a more threatening tone and the insertion of screams again giving a punk impression, while the guitars and bass are so dark and heavy. An interesting combination!
Unfortunately, the following track – the title track no less – drops the pace right back. This is a quiet, reflective acoustic track with soft vocals. Within the context of the rest of the album this track seems completely out of place. ‘Cat & Mouse,’ (which was also an earlier single) seems to take inspiration from the hey-day of Blondie, which is no bad thing really. ‘Take A Walk’ returns to a more conventional pop-song and possibly the most radio-friendly track on the album. Like ‘Black Summer’ the pace pares back a little, but this time there is more substance back-filling the vocals which this time retain the strength of other tracks but are more mellow and harmonious in nature than the bulk of the rest.
‘Burning Out’ features a bass line and guitar riff similar to The Ruts’ classic hit, ‘Babylon’s Burning’ while the final track alternates between quieter verses and heavier choruses with BIG vocals. This is the longest of the eleven tracks at over four minutes and a strong finish to a pretty enjoyable album.
Put aside all the prejudices of what you are expected to like; forget about having to like certain styles of music in order to gain some ‘cool.’ This album is certainly worthy of your attention.