Lehmann B. Smith: Girlfriends
- Although this is Lehmann B. Smith's third record, I have to admit I didn't really know him until now. To look at his bleak, slightly bloated face (sorry, we can't be friends now, can we Lehmann?) on the album cover, I was so totally ready for the sound accompanying it to be the grimmest kind of anti-pop. Oh, not so! Lehmann has an insider's understanding of the most sweetly melodic rock'n'roll; it had me snapping my fingers and grinning like an idiot. Actually, the beautiful thing is that Lehmann has all that pithy, flinty, acidic arty stuff going on too. Those catchy pop-rockers are all full of witty and incisive observations. Often he's quite theatrical about it, there's a choir backing him up that, when they're not doing lovely little harmonies, are engaging in call and response, like on the hilarious Malice For The Bullshit where the choir plays the irritated barman to Lehmann's sloppy and amorous drunk. Lehmann's voice is one of the most significant things in his sound: high pitched and nasally crooning; it's pretty mannered and could be the sort of thing that grates, if this were someone else; but Lehmann makes it work, just adding a little twee to what is a very broad appeal. I have read more about Lehmann than I have heard and from that I've garnered that the wonderfully tricked out approach to Girlfriends is the product of him really tightening things up here. For instance the last album is supposed to have forty tracks featuring, for the most part, just Lehmann and guitar. Compare that to the twelve here, and the half an orchestra's worth of instrumentation. The attention to detail really pays off, this is art-pop of the most infectious kind and it deserves to make Lehmann B. Smith a very well known name around these parts, and beyond.
- Chris Cobcroft.