Lodger - A Walk In the Park

TRANSIENT AND UNPREDICTABLE BEASTS, lodgers. They smarm their way into your home as perfect guests: considerate, witty and charming, a vibrant addition to the household. Then they trash the spare bedroom, steal your jewellery, give your daughter the clap and turn out to be goths.

Lodger must be different, though. They're mates with/girlfriends of/contractually bound to a member of Supergrass (drummer, Danny Goffey). And the harrowing tinky-tonk spittle-fest that was 'I'm Leaving' was an impeccable first reference: lush, lewd and languorous, suitably indie, and far more ironic than those raucous Space lads we had here a few months back.

So we let them space in the outhouse of the Top 30 and, sure enough, within months they release 'A Walk In The Park' and expose themselves as pop recidivists of the sneakiest order. It's exactly what you'd expect from a collaboration between Powder and Delicatessen: a little bit cranky, a little bit fruity, a fair bit confused and quite a lot goth.

It's Uncle Fester Plays Pop! essentially. Delicatessen's trademark organ sleaze and Stalinist piano clatter creates the atmosphere of a smoky Berlin smack den that sits uncomfortably with the playground chant choruses that Goffey clearly swiped from early 'I Should Coco' sessions. Upfront, meanwhile, Neil Carlill revels in his impression of a dribbling Rumplestiltskin while Pearl Lowe tries to match him drool for growl and ends up sounding like a primary school teacher telling him off for getting his todger out in class.

The final concoction is a vaudevillian monstrosity, an ugly/beautiful record trying to be epic and pithy, dark and jaunty, soothing and deranged all at once and only succeeding through sheer determination to out-insane the Insane Clown Posse. The likes of 'Always Round Here', 'Bones' and 'Top Gear Luv' chop brutally between clunking bierkeller blues and tearaway 'Grass choruses. 'Love Is The Game' is 'Country House' if the country concerned is a war-torn Transylvania, 'Ciao' is 'Lenny' joyriding through the seven circles of Hades. Then 'Safe' is Belle & Sebastian. Curious as cancer.

It's an awkward guest, this Lodger. Sleeps all day and makes terrifying cacophonies through the night. But such damn intriguing company we'll hold back on the eviction notices just yet.


Mark Beaumont