Recorded in an abandoned mill on the outskirts of Manchester, you’d be forgiven for thinking, at least on this information, that we’ve probably had more than enough post-punk gloom for this decade already. Though for all the Factory Records mythology, it was always the case that the best stuff the label put out was always more aligned with uber-pop than urban purgatory.
Nerve Up wears Mancunian nostalgia from 1979 proudly on its scuffed raincoat sleeve, but there’s enough day-glo here to suggest that the wall space of LoneLady contains as many old Smash Hits posters as it does those famous black-and-white Joy Division shots.
It’s LoneLady’s (real name Julie Campbell) songwriting that really shows that this is far from another 80s revival bandwagon jumper – mainly because the frugal nervy angst so regularly gives way to summery pop sensibilities. Immaterial could be a great lost single from Voice of the Beehive or The Bangles, while Campbell’s breathless vocals exude the innocent enthusiasm of a country girl visiting the bright lights for the first time, rather than the all-too-experienced city cynic.
There’s a refreshingly low-fi squeal to the rickety guitar riffs on Intuition and the early New Order-esque synth claps on the title-track give a carnivorous punch to a track that has a caffeine-fuelled Gang of Four-era funk to it. It’s certain to provoke jittery dance moves from men with angular fringes in indie discos the country over.
A former fine art graduate who realised that she hated being in bands, her decision to go solo under such a intriguing pseudonym has created a mini-media buzz, owing much to an incendiary appearance at South by Southwest in 2006. Her long locks have given way to a La Roux head-turning style since then, while the songs on this album prove just how exciting the fusing of early synth pounding, cheap guitars and lyrical bursts of frustrated ambition and lust can still be. --Rob Crossan
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