No Sad Songs
This is the 9th album by The Lilac Time but the first of new material in close to a decade. It’s nice – it’s very much a reminder of what Stephen Duffy did and does as The Lilac Time. He’s married to band member Claire Worrall and as the title hints this is a reflection of his newfound happiness. A classy writer, Duffy perhaps never got his dues – and No Sad Songs is one of those soft-comeback albums, much like The Go-Betweens’ Friends of Rachel Worth; it makes sense to fans, feels like the best sort of continuation, just a hint of change, but really business as usual. Which of course means that most people go on not caring, not aware, not interested.
That’s a shame because The Lilac Time’s version of pastoral pop should work as comedown from Britpop and shoegaze, for anyone who bothered to try to like the last album by The Wedding Present and/or finds Luke Haines’ recent material utterly too bonkers (the correct answer there, by the way, is yes, yes you do find it utterly too bonkers).
Take the sub-Wilco optimism of the likes of The Autumn Defense and The Minus 5 and imbue ith with a distinctly English grounding and that’s where The Lilac Time is at now; The Magnetic Fields without the baroque overtones and desperate cleverness, an acoustic Morrissey record stripped of its smugness even. These are the sorts of sounds you can hear here – even The Blue Nile’s Peace At Last done proper, done good.
No Sad Songs won’t build the fan base of the band but it almost should. There’s not a hair out of place, that familiar face seems older, wiser and – if anything – makes more sense right now. You use words like ‘nice’ and ‘lovely’ and people aim their own fingers towards their throat. But here it seems spot on. This is a lovely record. Really nice. Worth hearing if you ever cared about The Lilac Time or like the sound of any of the other acts mentioned here.