PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Lightships: Electric Cables

Think of this approach to pop/rock songwriting as a stretching out of time, like time-lapse photography that captures the flickering rays of the sun.


Electric Cables

Label: Domino
US Release Date: 2012-04-17
UK Release Date: 2012-04-02

Gerard Love’s ability to sing in a languorous way over dreamy music should be familiar to any fan of his band Teenage Fanclub, who are now over two decades into their career. Go back and listen, for example, to “Sweet Days Waiting”, my favorite song on their most recent LP, 2010’s Shadows. Think of that approach to pop/rock songwriting as a stretching out of time, like time-lapse photography that captures the flickering rays of the sun. Then take that and stretch it out into an album, and you’ll have Lightships’ Electric Cables, Love’s new solo project, which puts him in front of a band made up of other Scottish musicians, including current Fanclub guitarist Dave McGowan, former Fanclub drummer Brendan O’Hare, Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian and Tom Crossley, who played flute with International Airport and the Pastels -- including on their great 2009 album with Tenniscoats, Two Sunsets, which, come to think of it, has a similar sound to Electric Cables. Love also played in the touring band to support that album.

The band name Lightships and title Electric Cables seem to speak of electricity, but the body of light most often referred to in the lyrics is the sun – by name, on the songs “The Warmth of the Sun” and “Sunlight to the Dawn” or by inference, on songs like “Every Blossom” and “Photosynthesis”. The natural world is a dominant theme, and natural light is the dominant sound. Listening to Electric Cables, I keep thinking of films where the characters spend most of their time outdoors, on picnics and vacations, letting the filmmaker shoot the way light shines through trees, the way sunshine glows on our skin. I love films like that -- Apichatpong Weerasethakul ‘s Blissfully Yours, Eric Rohmer films like Claire’s Knee and La Collectionneuse, Jean Renoir’s Picnic on the Grass and A Day in the Country, the sunlight-heavy, observational films of Trần Anh Hùng (The Vertical Ray of the Sun); the list could go on and on. Electric Cables offers a similar atmosphere. It feels like escape, carefree, and also like the musical equivalent of our own thoughts and observations on an especially pretty day, as we walk through the city, town or countryside.

The music matches that, with layered guitars, relaxing and thinking outdoors. “The Warmth of the Sound” has a pleasant instrumental reverie at the end; “Photosynthesis” has piano, flutes and other instruments wandering around behind Love’s consistently mellifluous voice. This might be described by some critics as psychedelic, because of the way the music emulates the daze of the sun, but the songs themselves aren’t experimental freakouts but simple, daydreaming pop songs. (Note: I write “simple” not as a criticism, but with the utmost of respect and appreciation. Writing ‘simple’ pop songs is an eternal art). The songs are very direct in their descriptions, feelings and melodies. On one song, “Silver and Gold”, Love does sing in a strange light falsetto at first, but at just about every other moment on the album, he does little to obscure what he’s singing and the feelings within the words.

For all the talk of the changing of seasons, of rivers and plants and the role the sun plays in their lives, as a writer Love isn’t a naturalist so much as a romantic. As you might imagine, at its core the album is often about love, about how we express expectation, admiration, hope, longing, pleasure and joy. The third song, and current single, “Sweetness in Her Spark” spells that out, making clear that, like most pop music, these are songs about loved ones and would-be loved ones. They are songs about other people and how we feel about them, songs that reflect our inner conversations with ourselves and other people – imaginary, unsent letters, emails, phone calls and conversations. This is evident before he clearly mentions another person. It’s in the air if not the words. From the start, Electric Cables is all sweetness and light, warmth and comfort. It contains a lingering note of disappointment in life, too, that’s inevitable – but it’s sweet, lovely-sounding disappointment.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.