Lightships "Electric Cables"
Following on from his band mate Norman Blake’s recent side project Jonny, Gerard Love is the next Teenage Fanclubber to go it alone under the purposely ambiguous and enigmatic moniker of Lightships.
Gathering together a band of friends from fellow Scots indie alumni (past and present members of Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian and The Pastels make up the core of the band), Love has been given a blank canvas to do whatever he wants; and what he wants to do is trip out.
Although the expected strong melodic and harmonic qualities of his TF work are very much present and correct throughout this collection, ambiguity and haze are also an important component of the Lightships experience and also, by design, are flutes which add a wistful folky feel to the psychedelic swirl of the band’s soft wistful flow. Magnificent opener and mood piece ‘Two Lines’ intertwines Love’s gorgeously simple & gossamer thin folk pop meandering with swirls of undulating, strangely melodic and shimmering electronic feedback which occasionally threatens to overcome it, but becomes strangely hypnotic instead. Unsettling, but somehow unendingly beautiful.
Much of the album, such as early tracks ‘Every Blossom’ and ‘Sweetness In Her Spark’, finds the formula and floats along with enticing waves shimmering guitar lines, Love’s entirely fitting soft unimposing vocals, and a starring role for atmospheric delay and echo effects that Lee Perry would be proud of. ‘Stretching Out’ raises the pace a little with added percussive flourishes, while elsewhere, the wondering lead guitar that ‘Photosynthesis’ certainly has a feel of Nels Cline attacking a ‘Sky Blue Sky’-type Wilco number, and ends up being just as wistful and satisfying.
‘Electric Cables’ could well serve as the dictionary definition of warm, ethereal psychedelic folk. Some have criticised its unremittingly soft, almost anaesthetic-like feel. That’s fair enough; this is certainly not music to soundtrack a civil disturbance. However, that’s not really its purpose. It sounds like the opening to a secret world that one must perhaps experience alone to sink in to, given the time to let its multiple layers to wash over. Indeed what it sounds like is the soundtrack to a lazy beautiful dream.