Woo! A real whizz of excitement when I open up the jiffy bag and discover I’ve been sent the debut by Help Stamp Out Loneliness. Gig ubiquitous a couple of years ago, the band have been off the radar for a bit, but their songs stayed in my head the whole time, infectious tunes flashing out of my memory at random moments, sparkling bright, making me smile. It’s great to see them back, especially with this beautifully honed album.
You know the way you’re always hoping a record will hit pop highs? When you’re waiting for that point when the music flicks that switch inside you that transforms the world… and then often it never quite works? This record flicks that switch and hits those highs. Soaring, sky-high, above the clouds just laughing down at it raining kind of pop highs. It’s a brilliant Spring into Summer record - big, optimistic sounds, shining guitars, swooning synths, shivery keyboards and singer D. Lucille’s swooping Nico voice dipping and swerving, dragging your heart in its slipstream.
Soaring opener ‘Cottonopolis + Promises’ has echoes of Blondies’ ‘Dreaming’, a good touchstone for the band’s sound, not because they’re a female fronted band (duh! there are also two keyboarding women in the band, thanks) but because this is effortless, ageless pop music.
‘Record Shop’ is a ready-made classic, you can’t help but stop and let yourself get magicked away in its big pop sound, imagining the future you rushing to the dance floor with a whoop as the first chords kick in.
Help Stamp Out Loneliness are a cut above yer average guitars-bit-of-keyboards-for variety schmindie band, there’s an ambitious sheen about the songs. ‘Cellophane’ has a bumpy-funk rhythm, its serpentine tune wrapped in huskily piping fairground organ. ‘S-W-I-M’ gleams and shimmers and winks from a darkened corner where it’s flirting with The Cure. ‘Palma Violence’ menaces in the sleekest, most twinkly way and ‘My Window’ goes all wide-screen with sandpapery guitar wibbling and sighing backing vocals.
The twelve songs here whirl you along with a rush and a push of powerful pop momentum, like taking a dozen rollercoaster rides one after the other. Which isn’t to say there’s no breathing space here, the music is expansive and luxurious. It’s enthusiastic and joyful. I hope that’s how the band feel about the record because that’s what comes across and that’s how it makes me feel.
P.S. 'Record Shop' is being released as a free download to celebrate Record Shop Day on April 16th. Support your local record shop innit? Links below: