Album Review: Life in Film – Needles and Pins EP

By on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 at 12:00 pm

Last week saw the release of Life in Film‘s ‘Needles and Pins’ EP. My first real introduction to the band was ‘The Idiot’, with its promo video coming out in spring 2011, which led to this Bands to Watch written about them that autumn. At first, I thought it was pretty strange that ‘The Idiot’ was included on this debut. Perhaps, as seems to be the case with most thoughtful musicians, they want to distance themselves from an earlier, less accomplished (live performance or not) version of themselves?

Closer examination of the tracklisting for this EP reveals that my hypothesis is full of holes. Second track ‘Suitcase’ was previously made available for free from the band, and third track ‘Carla’ was recorded in a Watch Listen Tell session in 2009. This seems to suggest both of these songs have been played live in front of fans, both old and possibly new ones, for quite a while now. Maybe the most important point is the fact that Stephen Street, most famous for producing Blur and the Smiths back in the day, presided over the recording of this EP, which I think is equivalent to saying that recording-wise, it doesn’t get much better than this.

But for the sake of this review, let’s say you haven’t heard any of these songs, except perhaps the lead track ‘Needles and Pins’, because I posted the promo video for it last week when it was hot off the band’s Twitter. When you are a music reviewer, you’re often asked to compare a new band to a existing one, either for feel, general sound and the like. While ‘The Idiot’ made me think of the Smiths, ‘Needles and Pins’ makes me think of Sheffield’s Crookes. It certainly makes me feel as good as ‘Backstreet Lovers’, the most famous Crookes single.


Technically, I think the case can be made easily for the comparison between the two songs: both possess an infectious lyric, incredibly melodic guitar line and upbeat drums (being played by a chap in a plaid shirt who looks like he’s having the time of his life in the video below). Lyrically, I’m a big fan of ‘Needles and Pins’ too: immense regret is on show in the chorus, but with a memorable melody framed by memorable lyrics (“I had a dream about another storyline fading away / although I know you’ve gone, I hope I will still see you one day / ’cause it’s hard enough to take all of the things that break people in two / I remember goodbye, it’s not something I thought about saying to you”).

The guitar mastery continues into ‘Suitcase’ and ‘Until It’s Over’. You may be wondering to yourself, is this Britpop redux? We presume singer Samuel Fry bears no relation to the famous Stephen, what one thing we can be sure of is this Fry’s voice having a beauty that I expected to happen to Chris Martin‘s, it it had the chance to ripen over the years (but which never happened). See ‘Carla’, which slows things down slightly with a violin and notes of a xylophone but the beautiful guitars are still there (thankfully). It’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs released this year. It’s clear Burberry are fans as well, filming the performance version of ‘Carla’ below that stars the band dressed in their designer togs; other past band models include TGTF favourites Patrick Wolf and Dog is Dead, so they’re in good company.


The EP closer ‘Lose Control’ is another tearjearker. It sounds simple yet it’s probably been years in the making. Which pretty much sums up this EP: even though they’re young, both in age and in relative band experience, Life in Film sounds far, far wiser than their years.


Life in Film’s debut EP ‘Needles and Pins’ is out now. You can listen to it below, and for a limited time, the title track is available for free download as well.

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