Friday, 31 August 2012

Lucy Rose - Like I Used To Review

From the first time I heard the song Flaws, taken from Bombay Bicycle Club's album of the same name, I fell in love with Lucy Rose. Her delicate tones weave around Jack Steadman's like a friendship bracelet, evoking a distinct sadness that I always associate with loss or heartbreak. It is a song that still brings a tear to my eye, no matter how many times I've played it. It was then that I knew she was something special, and that her voice would be a headphone staple for whenever I was feeling contemplative, weary, or plagued by troubling thoughts.

Fast forward two years, and I sit with a copy of Lucy's debut album in my inbox. Having followed her single and EP releases, met her, watched her play live multiple times... it feels like everything has moved both very fast and very slowly for the London singer. In the mainstream public eye, she is still very much just the girl with a pretty voice who sometimes sings with Bombay and has made her own album. But for those who know better, she has been working tirelessly on this album in her parents basement for months, and playing 9 of its 11 tracks regularly at shows. Stitched together as a full release, Like I Used To is the culmination of her travels and experiences, the story of a young musician figuring out who she is.

It has become a journalistic cliché to describe talented female vocalists as sounding wise beyond their years. The wonderful and unique thing about Like I Used To is that it sounds exactly it's age, Rose's voice possessing a fragile, delicate intonation that lays every pronunciation and inflection bare, exposing all her insecurities and endearments. The lyrical lexis of First and Middle Of The Bed are painfully relateable summaries of the confusion of falling in love, the former bravely confessing 'You've got that way of making me feel/Oh so scared and safe at once' over a gentle finger picked melody, and the latter defiantly professing 'If you knew me at all/You should all know my answers.' With it's vaguely baleric beat supporting the bridge, Middle Of The Bed is ready and assembled for some 'arms in the air' moments live, an indication of her influences that lie outside the folk pop realm. Whether she intended it or not, it’s also structured in a way that will lend itself to some epic electronic remixes.

 Lucy Rose may have a band, but she is first and foremost a soloist. With her name on the album cover,it is only right that she takes precedence. In this sense, Like I Used To is a triumph, for the work of her four band members never stifles or outshadows her own voice and lead guitar. All arrangements besides Red Face and Middle Of The Bed remain gloriously similar to the live versions, the sparseness enabling the darkness to swell out of her pop songwriting. Album highlight Shiver benefits from such nervous tension, at times sounds like an acoustic Arcade Fire The Suburbs offcut, which is certainly no bad thing. It seems only right that the albums title is lifted from it, for it's bare boned beauty acts as the centre piece to the record. 

Another highlight comes in the form of ex-skins soundtrack tune Don't You Worry, the musically equivalent to waking up and finding a loved one sleeping soundly beside you as sunlight streams through your window. Comforting, reliable and heartwarming. It's a near perfect moment, growing in texture as it swells towards the 'won't you save me now' refrain. It's perhaps the most representative song of her career, balancing the reassuring with the paranoid to create something that seems real and honest.

Honesty is the key to Lucy Rose's success. This is a girl who has publically admitted to massive gaps in her musical education (allegedly she has never properly listened to The Beatles), made her own tea and jam to sell on tour when she has no official merch, and told me back in June that she considers herself completely unfashionable. She's unpolished, she's candid, and she's believable. No media training, no flamboyant costumes. Just a girl, her guitar and a collection of tracks that explore the kind of life lessons we all have to learn. With any luck, the nation will take her to their hearts as readily as she deserves.

Download: Shiver, First, Don't You Worry, Middle Of The Bed



EDIT: Full Album Stream now available!


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