I have my music collection filed alphabetically by artist (and then chronologically, but no need to get that granular), and have done a pretty good job over the years of staying on top of it: pretty good until last year, that is. I have just started to file 2002, and since we are now in September of ’03, I’m a little, ah, behind.
So anyway, I was hanging around in the “L’s” when I stumbled across one of my favorite records of the ’90s, the Lightning Seeds’ Cloudcuckooland, which I probably haven’t listened to in five years. In reality the Lightning Seeds aren’t plural, but are singular: Ian Broudie. Broudie’s uncannily melodic ear yields music that is sweet but not cloying, effervescent but not lightweight and spiced with surprising touches (often psychedelia) that taste good and are good for you.
Working essentially alone, Broudie cobbled together a seamless collection that boasts no less than three great songs. The opener, “All I Want,” begins with a synth swirl and another perfect Broudie guitar line. He sings with bright earnestness in a tenor reminiscent of the Zombies’ Colin Blunstone, or Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant after a few testosterone treatments:
“All I want to do
Is make you listen from now on
Stop what’s going on
Stop what’s going wrong”
He struggles to keep it all from slipping away.
“Sweet Dreams” conveys the storm rush of passion and the spun sugar cocoon of its aftermath in Broudie’s most lilting voice.
“Pure” was such a hit on American modern rock radio that it actually cracked the Top 40. Among the best pop-rock songs of the last 15 years, the pure melody and chirping synth counterpoint are so compelling that the song doesn’t even need a traditional chorus. The odd A/B/A/B/B/B/B structure is interrupted by a guitar break that gooses the song to even greater heights on the final two B iterations:
“Just lying smiling in the dark
Shooting stars around your heart
Dreams come bouncing in your head
Pure and simple every time.”
Neither time nor repeated listenings can drive that purity away.