Music

Selebrities: Lovely Things

Photo: Brayden Olson

WARNING: "Lovely Things" may also contain traces of unrequited love, heartache and heavy rain.


Selebrities

Lovely Things

Label: Cascine
US Release Date: 2013-06-25
UK Release Date: 2013-06-25
Website
Label website
Amazon
iTunes

Hello Selebrities! Bonjour tristesse! Yes despite coming from the the 'Party-hearty' 'City that never sleeps' and the hella hipster, bustlin' borough o' Brooklyn, there is something resolutely rainy and decadently despondent about Selebrities. Their fuzzy, indie pop début Delusions was curs'd / bless'd – endearingly so - with the doe-eyed, heavy-hearted bedsit melancholia of waif n' stray, beautiful loser Brits from the 1980s. Y'know, the Smiths, New Order, the Cure et al. Romance. Raincoats. Rimbaud. Macclesfield Miserablism. Albeit channelled through the cherubic, 'wow n' flutter' tones of Maria Usbeck over an indie disco backbeat that at times recalled young Ms. Ciccone as much as Hooky n' Morris. Now with Delusions cast aside, would the Disney-tastically titled Lovely Things find this quixotic quartet bursting with renewed Tigger bounce? Well, not exactly, as disque deux offers by turns more "Melody" and mo' "Malady".

On the "SUNNY DAYS" side of the street we first find, erm, "Found". An intoxicating introduction rich with dreamy, hypnotic sway. Like much of Lovely Things it's resplendent with plenty o' heavenly scented "Woooh! A-ha! Ha" breathless kisses. Maria Usbeck appears as soft parade dancer lost in a fluffy anaesthetised haze, her vocal misty, vaguely European. Recent single "Temporary Touch" proves the first of several 'Proper Pop Bangers'. Heroic, spidery guitar riffs, gliding new wave bass and hyperpop urgency. "You made me feel the rush...you made me feel the dirt again," swoons Usbeck, eyes closed, sweetly surrender'd, spinning in fragrant ecstasy. The perfect soundtrack for Andie Walsh's Pretty in Pink diaries. The adrenalised "Lovers" is equally up for it. Kicking open the cellar door with coffin rattle percussion and choppy 'bat-in-the-belfry' Goth guitar it licks some Visage-esque synth sparkle for added glamorama glitter. The "Let's Go" chorus kicks the pace into space, "I'll never find another / I'll never find another one / One like you," ushers Usbeck. A few deliciously dramatic gasps for air later and the whole shebang-shenanigan ascends into a triumphant 4/4 stompin' raver. It's at this precise point one notes Selebrities have quietly become "A bit good at the Pop stuff." Despite its gravediggers n' switchblades title "Born Killers" is more about throwing your homework onto the fire and going out to find the one that you love and who loves you. Armed with the perky sparkle n' bounce of the Wake's "Pale Spectre" (albeit with black fingernails) and high on "FUCK TOMORROW!" abandon it races... tragically "Into the greatest mistake of our lives!".

The "HEAVY SHOWERS" side is still pretty good but does discretely deliver the odd sleepytime yawn. "Wither Away" is pure Garbage. The band Garbage that is. Shirley Manson at her most 'serious face', drawlin' moody sourface grumpy. It's overlong and a 'birrova' drag. Kudos for the glass harmonicas though. "You're Gone" is a stronger shot of sad and carries a torch for the Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma". Its initially playful patter swiftly leaden with disappointment n' despair, haunted house harmonies, sullen, beestung lips and smeared mascara. "There are too many problems for us to fix" resigns Usbeck dolefully. "Forged to Be Broken" is another Mozzer mourner for the incoming landslide albeit less memorable. "But now the only truth I know is we're alone 'til we die" it imparts, possibly with the soil fallin' over its head. "Baroque" is properly gorgeous though with ghosts of Julee Cruise's bewitching "The Nightingale" sailing alongside its lonesome drift. Crystalline synths, shufflin' drums and the soothing sweep of the mirrorball tide rock gently back n' forth with a graceful sway. Cut with sorrowful regret and calming "Oooh, oooh" consolation, Usbeck aches "I'm alone in this life." O the humanity! The best of the heartbreakers though is "Fell to Earth". Kate Bush out on the moors in the witching hour under a UFO sky. Acapella n' alien ambience it's Lovely Thing's loveliest thing. Poetic and pining with a tearstained trace of "Pachelbel's Canon", "When the light came to get you / I lost my sight." Elegantly ethereal. Lovely Things doesn't end with a whimper though but a dancer. "I Could Change" is coolly euphoric in Selebrities' own understated way. It's New Order's divine, driving "Ceremony" recast for a midsummer night's dream. Hungry, lustful, its giddy arms open, raised aloft, stretching toward the healing sun.

Lovely Things proves Selebrities are getting better at being Selebrities. Their distinct yet familiar brand of romantic '80s indie pop is getting harder, better, faster, stronger, and sadder too. But for all the underlying ache, Selebrities clearly understand the life-affirming JOY of pop and this is where Things is particularly Lovely. Despite playing close to the shadows of their influences and thus much here remains cosily familiar, the spirited, sincere Lovely Things still has enough sparkle to make old acquaintances seem shiny n' new.

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Music

Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.

Music

Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".

Music

Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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