I was introduced to this album courtesy of the inclusion of 'Scottish Pop' on a sampler. A moment or two of breezy summery pop genius. We all know what they mean - that halcyon innocent sound we associate with the likes of Clare Grogan or Orange Juice or the debut from Aztec Camera. This song contains one of the finest couplets ever :
'You can call me a plagiaristic English Fop
But when I'm with you, I feel like I'm listening to Scottish Pop'
Bought on a whim the album has proved to be a real joy. In the band's own words it's 'Songs about being in love / about falling in love / about saying goodbye'. It combines wit, warmth, real poignancy, great melodies, arrangements, super playing and takes me back to simpler times that probably never really existed - where you could just meet a girl and go for a walk in the park, think about having an ice cream, and lie in the sun telling stupid jokes.
'It will End' the intro track really sets the scene - 'It will end / whether in a month / or a year/ whether it's in silence / or in tears' ... 'By phone or in a letter / Regret or in relief / In silence or in screaming / Instead of running on / In lies or bitter truth / In Paris or in Ealing / You know I'll miss you when you're gone' - really when the momentum of these words comes and the strings come in the hardest heart should be melting.
The album is consistently good - but inevitably with highlights. I particularly like
'The Flaming Lips' ( 'If you don't want this pain/You shouldn't fall in love again' )
'Solace' - which really captures the deep sadness of splitting up with someone you love, but with optimism rather than despair, and a sense of thankfulness that something wonderful did happen.
'Wrapped Up Together' - a lazy evocation of just spending hours in bed with the one you love
But really they're all great. Plain old love songs. If you feel the need to be reassured that somewhere out there warmth and laughter hides beneath the cold surfaces of the world then this album is for you.
on 12 January 2005
Let's be honest, with albums you have to admit to liking a certain percentage of the songs and put up with the occassional dross or filler.
With A Different Lifetime you don't. It's not because all of the tracks are perfect because they're not, but collectively it makes a truly perfect album, if that makes sense.
You have to listen to this album in it's entirety and not just one or two favourite tracks. It's one of the most complete albums you'll own which you'll put on to sit and listen to all the way through.
No matter what kind of relationship you're in, just come out of or hoping to get into, you'll warm to this album and recognise each and every track as a stage in any relationship. Musically as well as lyrically it's superb and it just ebbs and flows wonderfully. Buy it, listen to it, listen to it a few more times and then fall in love with it. It's impossible not to.
on 3 October 2001
Spearmint's best album to date and one of the best records I've heard this year; repays many listenings; the lyrics are an extraordinary mixture of bitterness and the forlorn, beautifully understated; the music is rich in individual melody and refinement; in a time of fashion leading music by the nose rather than the other way round, where everyone jostles to sound like everyone else and where the lowest common denominator rules, it is a SHEER JOY to hear a record which is self-contained, emersed in its own private and wonderful world, unconcerned whether the package tourists show up this year or not...