on 26 November 2012
Lightships is basically a solo release by Gerard Love, one of the key players in Teenage Fanclub. The style here is dreamy pop with a definite Teenage Fanclub influence. There are also a lot of similarities to the early 70's Byrds releases, although not nearly as much of a country influence.
I will be going in depth regarding each song on this release. All of the songs have a similar vibe yet some of the production elements change drastically from song to song.
The production elements include such things as live instruments vs. drum machines, vocal effects/quality, and mixing elements of the track.
As a whole, this album is brilliant in some respects, and annoying in others. By far, the strongest aspects of this release are Gerard's vocals. The songwriting is good to very good with a couple beautifully written tracks.
The production values are lacking on some tracks, with repetitive drum loops on at least 3 tracks, but they are also redeemed by excellent guitar sounds and a fluffy warm tone overall.
Most likely, Gerard intended his music to be heard this way, as he has proven himself a wonderful singer and a genius songwriter with his band Teenage Fanclub. I also regard him in this manner.
However, I will be challenging his decisions on some of the tracks, especially a few of the tracks towards the end of the album.
Track 1 "Two Lines" - **** Here we have a beautiful track with great vocals, very well written, medium paced and very floating. I really like this track a lot, but the drums are boring, that's my only complaint on this track. The drum sounds are nice and it sounds like a live drummer, so that's good. The guitar leads are really nice with a fadeout at the end. Great track!
Track 2 "Muddy Rivers" - **** Wow, his vocals sound great on this track! Its slightly faster than track one with very nice counter melodies on guitar or keys during the melody vocal lines. Positive and airy, a very excellent track here. Again, the drums are very simple and don't do much at all, but for this track it works nicely.
Track 3 "Sweetness in Her Spark"- *** This track reminds me of Cornelius Brothers It's Too late to turn back now, I believe I believe I'm falling in love, etc.
This track is slightly repetitive for my taste, but Gerard's vocals sound great. It's a good track, with an upbeat pace and really nice guitar, and somewhat of a live drum feel.
Track 4 "Every Blossom"- *** Very nice harmonies on this track, they remind me of Paul Simon. Very well written track, I really like this song, it has a medium pace and sweet melodies with flutes and jangly guitars. However, the drums on this track are really annoying in my opinion. There's a snare fill in the exact same spot throughout the whole song, it sounds like a drum machine to me and really takes away from the listenability of this track. I think you're better off not even putting drums in at all.
Track 5 "Silver and Gold" - ***** Perfection! Wow, what a great track, wonderfully written and realized. Great production, nice drums! Its too bad the drums aren't this good on all the tracks. This is a 5 star track, with excellent vocals, upbeat and shining, nicely done Gerard!
Track 6 "The Warmth of the Sun" - **** Things slow down a bit on this mostly instrumental track. This is a very nice track, Gerard's vocals sound as warm as the sun here, and the Glockenspiel sounds delightful. There are flutes and other floating sounds that create a warm vibe for this track, and no drums or drum loops audible, sweet track.
Track 7 "Girasol"- *****Beautiful vocals here, with some really nice harmonies. This is a well written, great piece of dreamy pop. This track is slow to medium paced, and is somewhat reminiscent of the early 70's Byrds style. Really superb track!
Track 8 "Stretching Out" - ** Why? Why this annoying repetitive drum fill evey other bar in the entire song? I don't get it, please explain. This is such a nice song, with beautiful vocals, but the drums are so annoying to me. The drum fill sounds like it was programmed in a drum machine, but it could be live. Either way, its so annoying, seriously. Hey Gerard, can you send me a mix of this song without the drums, please? Its really a nice track, too bad the drums ruined a lot of it for me. Stretch out and get a live drummer! Maybe one day Gerard can explain his reasoning for this. Disappointing.
Track 9 "Photosynthesis" - ** Here we go again! Another annoying drum riff that sounds like it was programmed, with no guts behind the drums at all! I can't really listen to this and enjoy it like I should be able to. This is another really nice song, with very cool guitar and bass sounds, warm vocals, very sweet song here. Great instrumentation, flutes, wah guitar, so great if it wasn't for those annoying drums through the ENTIRE song, the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Another disappointment.
Track 10 " Sunlight to the Dawn" - **** Ok, what a relief . Here we have a nice mid tempo track with beautiful vocals with harmonies. The drums sound programmed but not annoying, thankfully! Nice sounds with some synths and noises, if it had a live drum feel I would have given it 5 stars. This is really a beautiful song and ending to a very nice piece of work.
I really respect and admire the work of Gerard Love, since the beginning of Teenage Fanclub and through this Lightships album. I can hear what he is going for with his floating positive music, and I really like it. I also believe that he has a reason for the repetitiveness is those few tracks as far as the drums go, but it just happens to be really annoying to me. Its not a big problem, but I wish I could listen to those tracks without that distraction instead of skipping over them the next time I listen to the album. This could have easily been a 5 star album, but I'll have to give it 4 and hope for the best next time around. Thanks for the excellent music, Gerard!!!