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Home Improvement for Condemned Buildings

Apparently Will Carruthers, the singer of freelovebabies, used to be in a band called Spiritualized. I hear they were rather big. However, as this is 2006, and at the height of their 90s success I was probably learning to finger-paint, it seems appropriate to give Carruthers and his band a clean slate. They make their hazy mark with the slacker-hearted ‘Sky Blue Feeling’. It swoons along with unhurried bass and some restrained psychedelic elegance in the guitar tone, gently coaxing the listener into the album. ‘On The Drip’ picks up the pace a little, with scratchy vocals and occasional plinks of keyboard making their presence felt in the jive. It’s not exactly honky-tonk, but these are vibes you could easily lose yourself in with a little herbal situation. If there’s any criticism to be made it’s that this record could probably have been made ten years ago and sounded about the same, but freelovebabies seem happy enough melding their 90s cred with their 60s inheritance, as the name implies. This isn’t music to make you jump on tables and scream expletives at members of the clergy, but it’s not meant to be. Carruthers knows his way around a guitar, and the best way to peel off those oh-so-slow clean-picked notes to spin you right into the web he’s weaving. A prime example is ‘Finding It Hard’, containing the killer couplet ‘I wake Sunday morning in my Friday night shirt/There’s burns on my arms and they don’t even hurt’, delivered in a manner slightly reminiscent of a yobbish Jarvis Cocker. Or maybe that’s just me. ‘Too Tough’ could just be the inner monologue of Liam Gallagher the day he wakes up and realises that tonight, he’s not a rock and roll star. Luckily, he tells us ‘everything’s gonna be alright’, and then he lets the guitars loose. They spiral and swirl, like they’re meant to do in these situations, and you might as well believe him, because, you know, who knows, man. That’s the general impression to be extracted amid his low-key odes to ‘petrol rainbows’ and all those other little idiosyncratically brilliant images that Scousers like to pull out on occasion.

Do you hear that guitar? The one going ‘pling-wibble-wow-whoaaaa’? That guitar. That’s the sound of a man who doesn’t have too solid a plan for where his music is going, but thinks you ought to go with the flow. And hey, why not? We could all use a little free love.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Richard O’Brien was born in Peterborough in 1990, and has been trying to escape ever since. He is currently still trying to get an education, and resides in a Lincolnshire village with his parents and his labradors with nautical names. He likes to act, listen to music, and write songs that will never be sung.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, October 19th, 2006.