Lightspeed Champion - Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (January 21, 2008)

Let's say that listening to music is like baking a cake. First you have to get the igredients so you go to the nearest "" store and get them. You see the Arctic Monkeys eggs and put them into your cart, because you know they are essential to prepare your cake. As you stroll around the shop you also grab Muse milk, Franz Ferdinand sugar, Oasis flour, The Strokes baking powder and they all land next to the eggs.
"I guess that's all..." you think to yourself as you make your way to the checkout.

But on your way you pass the fresh fruit stand and decide to make your cake more original. That's why the raspberries (Florence + the Machine), The Moldy Peaches (they're not really moldy) and Shout Out Louds strawberries get to your cart as well.

What I mean by this is that sure, the mainstream bands I mentioned required to bake the cake are really important for the indie/alternative genre, but you eventually get bored of listening to them all the time and hearing them on the radio over and over again. Many people are content with a plain cake, but some want to get something more refined. Therefore they remove blindfolds from their eyes (or plugs from their ears) and go just a bit deeper into the shop. And that's how they find "the fruits".

And so the fruit I'd like to tell you about is the Lightspeed Champion, a solo project of former Test Icicles member, Devote Hynes, who literally took my heart with the speed of light. The first time I got to hear about his solo act was when my friend played for me the "Stay the Fuck Away From Me" record by the man. I was expecting something noisy, hard and annoying, like I'd found the music of Test Icicles, but to my great positive surprise I heard a nice acoustic ballad-kind of song about being dumped. As it's my cup of tea, (not being dumped, but acoustic ballads) I decided to get further acquainted with Dev's project and so I found the "Falling Off The Lavender Bridge" 2008 album. With much softer sound filled with violins, acoustic guitars, nice female vocals provided by Emmy the Great, Dev definitelly cut himself off his musical Test Icicles past to reborn as the Lightspeed Champion.

The album was recorded in Nebraska with the help of Mike Mogis, an important figure who contributed much to the releases of the Saddle Creek label (most notably Bright Eyes records). Mike Mogis ended up playing on the album alongside The Faint drummer Clark Beachle, trumpet and pianist Nate Walcott (one of the permenent members of Bright Eyes) and of course the lovely aforementioned, Emmy the Great. They all created a rich, original, cinematic sound.

Ok, we already know, more or less, about the general sound of the album, but what about the lyrics? Now it's a little bit different here, as Dev sings of cold sweat, licking open wounds, chocking, vomiting into someone's mouth and other "jolly" things. Some of the titles are also very appealing ("Let the Bitches Die" or "All to Shit"). I generalized the sound, now i will generalize the climate of the album - it's depressing... very depressing and miserable, but probably as long as you don't pay attention to what he sings about, but how he sings this you may not get too blue, 'cause Dev's vocal is good. Not "Rufus-Wainwright-operetic-sort-of-way-good, but "in-his-own, interesting-way-good". Dev happens to sing out of tune, but you can tell he sings out of his heart which not always hits the right notes. There is quite a contrast between nearly, you can say, merry tunes and morose lyrics. But it's not flamboyant or flagrant. It's ironic. And as Oscar Wilde once said that irony is the highest level of intelligence (he didn't say this literally though).

So here we have the track list:

1. "Number One"

2. "Galaxy Of the Lost"

Somehow I find this song the catchiest of all songs on the album. That's the one covering most of the happy topics like the open wounds, poison, being sick etc. Nonetheless that's my fave on the album. Florence + the Machine did a great cover of that song, which is worth mentioning.

3. "Tell Me What It's Worth"

Also a pretty good one, that one on the other hand is probably the deepest song. According to Dev, it's about the verbal abuse he suffers from people of his own race.

4. "All to Shit"

A short and definite one. A bit like a bridge I might say. Dev sings about a ruined relationship. Not a very bright song though.

5. "Midnight Surprise"

The longest one, but which is pretty surprising it doesn't get even a tiny bit boring.

6. "Devil Tricks for a Bitch"

I really enjoy that song, because of the lovely violin in the background and the calm climate, which doesn't really suit the topic of the song.

7. "I Could Have Done This Myself"

Nice change of pace in that track. Although the song's short it's a bit boring and the beginning to get more amusing towards the end.

8. "Salty Water”

I like the calm atmosphere of that song and the piano, but I'm not a big fan of this kind of echoed vocals.

9. "Dry Lips"

"Dry Lips" has a rather obvious meaning. I wouldn't say I don't like that song, but I can't say it's catchy and memorable. The music in the background annoys me a bit, but maybe it's just me.

10. "Everyone I Know Is Listening to Crunk"

My second favourite on the "Falling off The Lavender Bridge". It seems like it's personal and the lyrics are simple, yet beautiful. Love it.

11. "Let the Bitches Die"

that song differs form the others as its lyrics are actually happy, whereas the music is depressing.

12. “No Surprise (For Wendela)/Midnight Surprise)”

Plus the bonus CD with covers includes:

1. "Never Meant to Hurt You" (Good Shoes cover)

I like Dev's vocals much more than The Good Shoes's singer, who seems to shout a bit too much. Better than the original.

2. "Souvenirs" (Patrick Wolf cover)

I'm a big fan of Patrick Wolf, but once again I have to say Dev's version is better. Somehow I can never listen to that song till the end when Patrick sings it. This version seems to be a bit more "bright" then the original. All you Patrick Wolf lovers probably know what I mean.

3. "Flesh Failures" (from the musical "Hair")

Nice one, though i don't really like the female vocals. But the guitar makes up for that.

4. "Xanadu" (Olivia Newton-John cover)

Unfortunately I don't like either the cover or the original. The melody is too jolly and "naive".

I'm not going to further describe every track to you, as this is the best part of listening to new music - interpreting and discovering it by yourself. So feel free to dicover Lightspeed Champion. You have the green, or should I say, lavender light.

Pszyk xx


jotta said...

You know Dev Hynes writes comics as well? His girlfriend is the designer Nicole Michalek, and she illustrates most of them.

He did a new one recently, which was illustrated by the winner of a competition. Should be published soon- as well as being put on display in the Lazarides Gallery, Soho, London, later in the year.