The Long Blondes sophomore album, Couples, is a disappointing follow-up to their sublime 2006 debut, Someone to Drive You Home, but not as disappointing as it initially appears. The first time I listened to it, I could barely make it through the first threw tracks. Here was a band who could have been this decade’s Elastica sounding like Madonna on a bad day.
Yes, the album is more of a disco album than the subversive indie pop of the debut, nor does it succeed on that end. The lyrics are not nearly as inspired, either. But Couples is a much darker, depressing album, showing the negative side of the femme fatale coin that made Someone to Drive You Home so alluring.
While Kate Jackson croons that “guilt has nothing to do with it” early on in the album, she defies herself with deeply introspective if rather blunt tracks like “Here Comes the Serious Bit” or “Too Clever By Half.” The most intriguing track is “Round the Hairpin," which is the musical equivalent of the scene in Almost Famous where Kate Hudson swallows a bottle of Quaaludes.
In fact, the first two albums by the Long Blondes form a striking comparison to the first and second half of that film. That frickin’ Kate Hudson could get an Oscar nomination for that role is a good sign for the future of Kate Jackson.