Well, sometimes a good tune is just a good tune, innit?
There was a period last year when my last grandparent – my mum’s mum – lived in this very nice assisted living home in Atlanta. Very nice – like a very large house. And, on Saturdays, this tiny little guy would come over and sing oldie-goldie songs to the ladies (most of the residents there were women, as is often the case in most assisted living homes I’ve been in). Sequin vests, satin pants, the whole James Brown works. The Turtles, the Mamas and the Papas, the Jackson Five, Neil Diamond, all that happy upbeat jazz. And whenever he could, he’d drop to his knees and stare a lady straight in the eyes, and make her blush and smile like she were the belle of the ball (and who said she wasn’t?).
After his set, as he was packing his gear, the little guy would bubble with stories and small chat for us. And one time – I don’t recall how the conversation steered this way – he reflected on his choice of tunes. The 50s and 60s were the happiest times for music, he said. Where was that innocence now, he wondered?
Sweetness and light don’t have to be quaint little antiques. Any indie pop fanatic can tell you that.
From the get-go, Lunchbox Loves You sounds like a sunny day in 1963 with the transistor radio blaring across the beach. The little “ooohs” and the wistful chorus of “Tom, What’s Wrong?” would add up to a mega-hit five decades ago – or maybe even two decades ago, when the Elephant 6 brigade commanded the college airwaves. What happened to the “pop” of “indie pop”, anyway? Why aren’t super-casual flutes and blustery horns still a thing?
Really, once you let Lunchbox into your eardrums, they won’t letcha down. Especially not with the wondrous ‘Die Trying‘ – if that aching jangle-laced build-up doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, then I don’t wanna know ya. And oh my stars, “It Feels Good to Lose” features a xylophone. It doesn’t get more gumdrop bitter-sweet than that.
I mean, yes – that Byrds-like jangle permeates the album like maple syrup seeps into waffles. And yes, if you haven’t the sweet tooth for 30-odd minutes of knockabout pop, you’ll tire of this quickly. But at least hang on for the roaring finale of ‘Tonight Is Out Of Sight‘, which brags enough swingin’ bass and chugging guitar to prove that even these star-struck lovers can rock out if they want to, in good Revolver fashion.
At any rate, as thoroughly soda-pop lush as Lunchbox Loves You may be, it fulfills its promise. Yes, Lunchbox loves you. And that cake? All for you, babe. Go on, forget the forks (those are too pointy, anyway) – just reach in with both hands and scoop out a crumbly chunk for yourself.