Sweet Sweet Lies
The concept of the driven artist has taken something of a beating in recent years. With music increasingly populated by bands that form on a Monday, do a deal on a Tuesday, release an album on Wednesday and are gone by the weekend, the idea that a songwriter would struggle for their art is a somewhat anachronistic concept.
Sweet Sweet Lies story is therefore, depending on your attitude to our modern culture, welcome evidence that art still matters and that the best things come to those who strive or a blast from the past, that time when bands had something to say and believed in their music rather than the transitory power of an appearance on the latest red carpet of an awards ceremony. If it is the latter you may want to stop reading now.
Our story begins with the two key protagonists at either end of the UK, Dominic in a satellite town of London, head hunting his way to a suburban house and a corporate future, Michael in Glasgow waiting tables and drifting in the local music scene whilst achieving little. For those that believe in serendipity, the moment that Dom decided to throw in his nine to nine existence and Mike decided to up sticks and move to the other end of the country and Brighton University to allow them to meet on a music course is proof that the story of the great bands always begins with those moments of a romantic bent, the hand of history playing its part.
And there is no doubt this is a story for romantics, replete with the necessary twists and turns and trials of fate that make all the great stories prior to the happy ending, which is yet to come.
Fresh from their University course that delivered little of an academic nature but allowed Michael and Dominic to build a writing relationship that saw their individual tracks re-edited by the other party (a process that continues to this day), the first incarnation of the band found themselves management and finance and looked set to tread a swift path to success. The removal of that finance and the suggestion that X Factor or a stint in the West End could be a new route to fame provides the sad moment in our romantic tale.
So enter the fairy godmother to our heroes in a somewhat unlikely guise. Junk Scientist had relocated to Brighton from London and become involved with a new management/label project called Something Nothing Records, a label that would be based on producing good music careers rather than chasing immediate success. Something Nothing became the new home for a new incarnation of Sweet Sweet Lies and the facilitators of the album that lies before you. With Dom and Mike having honed their writing skills over that five year period of University and dead end first start winner takes all management the Sweet Sweet Lies that entered the studio to record were a much different, and better, band for their time in the wilderness. No longer chasing that fast track to stardom, the pair had sufficient confidence and, crucially, experience of the fickle nature of the music world to pursue their desire to make honest music, driven by melody and narrative rather than radio playlists and passing fads.
Thus ‘The Hare, The Hound and The Tortoise’ inhabits a world ringed by the high drama of Scott Walker, the theatrics of Bertolt Brecht, the heart baring honesty of Elliot Smith and the intensity of Nick Cave. As Dom and Mike are genuine scholars of music, (both offer that they ‘like to think we are still students at what we do, we are still learning’), the twelve songs that comprise their debut swing with mariachi horns, weaving basslines, flamenco flourishes and sorrow drenched love song waltzes. This is as far from your standard one dimensional debut album, such a current trend, as you could get. The songs present themselves full frontal, the likes of ‘Overrated Girlfriend’ or lead single, ‘No One Will Love You Like I Do’ eschew metaphor for a direct lyrical style, the pair favouring a ‘literal, honest perspective over wrapping things up to disguise them’. Dom’s voice ranges from a Jello Biafra sneer to an Everley Brothers croon, harmonies abound and sweetness and rage often inhabit the same track.
Sweet Sweet Lies release ‘The Hare, The Hound and The Tortoise’ on February 6th, 2012.