Someone must have been under the impression that I had a landmark birthday on the close horizon (I’m still 29 and holding firm, thank you). How else to explain finding in my inbox Up At Lagrange from The Hobbes Fanclub? This is an album that seems to be an ingenious distillation of three of my favorite groups: The Close Lobsters; Teenage Fanclub; and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with a good bit of Ride for good measure. The album has feedback, jangle, reverb, big hooks and soaring choruses. It sounds like 1,000 guitars all energetically on task.
It begins with the “Into the Night”, a perfect shoegaze song for driving under the stars with the windows down and the summer breeze blowing your hair — you know, hazy vocals and jangling guitar. The following “Stay Gold” (stream below) is a jaunty song with upbeat riffs bracketing a simple chorus. “Your Doubting Heart”, one of my favorites, perfectly marries shoegaze and college rock in fine Close Lobsters style. Track four, “The Boy From Outer Space” is a soaring Teenage Fanclub-meets-Ride tune, with affecting oohhs and aahhs, and “I Knew You’d Understand” could be its birth twin. “Run Into The Sea” hits TJ&MC territory with pulsing percussion, and loud and jangling guitars with a touch of feedback. There are echos of early Ride in “How Could You Leave Me Like This”. Track 8, “Outside Myself” is another standout track that that recalls the The Close Lobsters hits that I still regularly find time to play.
Is this cutting edge music? No, of course not. But the game here was never to invent, but to thrill. And thrill it does. If I did things like make year end lists of top albums, I would include this one. And because I do make such lists (and publish them), I assure you that Up At Lagrange already has a spot.
The Hobbes Fanclub is Leon (guitar/vocals), Louise (bass/vocals), and Adam (drums), and they reside in Bradford, UK. Up At Lagrange is available via Shelflife Records in vinyl, digital and CD formats.