A band with a mildly confusing history which saw them getting together, parting and getting together again built around the songwriting of of Nick Lockwood and singer Sarah Lazenby. Originally brought together by Arctic Monkeys' manager, Geoff Barradale, they blossomed into a writing team, but Sarah decided to complete one of those made up qualifications that shouldn;t exist - in her case, a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts in Sheffield - and so they split, only to get back together in 2004.
A series of auditions saw the arrival of Tom Farmer (bass), Rob Gentry (keyboards), and Jez Wiles (drums) and they headed off to Nick's North London loft to record their debut album, naturally called "The Loft Years". And the end result is an often inspiring, often infuriating collection of modern pop / rock songs, one part 2004 Goldfrapp and one part 1977 Fleetwood Mac, an interesting clash of style and substance, befitting a band whose early days saw them attracting more fans in the world of fashion than the music business. The fashion industry embraced their style with the likes of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood kitting out the band, resulting in a fan base who take just as much time dressing for the shows as the band themselves, often collaborating and co-ordinating. It's a far cry from the denim and leather of my youth.
The lead track for the album is 'Listening To Joni' and it's a good pointer to their sound with some modern soul allied to delicious harmonies that would delight the legions of Duffy and Amy Winehouse fans. But they're just at home with the camp aesthetics of Rufus Wainwright and clinical electro, leaving you adrift between loving and loathing. When they hit one of their stranger vibes like 'Touch Me Hold Me', it's as if Edith Piaf had joined Kool & The Gang to riff on a Funkadelic tune. The lesser tunes like 'Star' come on like a bad Kylie B-side. And that's bad.
If nothing else I have to stand back and admire the effort and ambition that has gone into their music. There's no lazy indie idling going on here. instead they've aimed for the stars, and if they don't always make it, you still have to applaud the attempt.