Album Review: LVLS – Teenager EP

By on Monday, 6th January 2014 at 12:00 pm

LVLS Teenager EP coverLast year (gosh, I can’t believe I’m talking about 2013 now as ‘last year’), when I was planning my annual holiday out to Britain, I was at a loose end after Liverpool Sound City after our John had returned to uni in Lincoln. The train up from Liverpool to Glasgow was far too expensive on the Sunday because it was the bank holiday, so our Martin suggested I make a stop in Manchester for the night. “It’s nearly half the price, and only 30 minutes’ longer journey, and you get to have a night (or two even!) in Manchester which I gather is a city you’re fond of? :-)” is what he said. Yes, I am rather fond of Manchester. I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do there, as some local friends from there were in America that weekend (ironic), so being the good music editor that I am, I went trawling through the local gig listings I went. A band with the curious name LVLS (pronounced “loveless”) was playing at the Castle Hotel. Initial thought: oh no, are they another WU LYF who think all capital letters in a band name are cool? I went to their Soundcloud and had a listen to a few of their songs. Hmm. Much better than WU LYF already. I liked the male lead vocal and the female backing vocal. Synths…hello, Manchester!

I decided they were worth checking out and besides, I’d been meaning to go there anyhow, so away I booked. Sadly, I guess I hadn’t been paying too much attention to their Facebook page (read: I was too excited about my holiday) to have missed until I was actually in Liverpool to realise they’d cancelled their show. I ended up getting takeaway soup from Soup Kitchen, returning to my rented room in the Northern Quarter to be sat alone with my laptop, playing promo singles I’d just bought from the Vinyl Exchange on it. ::plays sad violin:: However, enough about me. 2014 is a new year, and to bring in the new year, LVLS has released a 3-track EP, ‘Teenager’, complete with adorable candy sweet hearts on its cover. (Okay, so I’ve almost forgiven them for cancelling that night…) There is limited information about the band online – seems to be the hallmark of so many bands from Manc these days – but frankly, if this relatively new five-piece made up of guys and girls can continue to write and record songs as good as these, I don’t think people will care. Much.

The first odd thing you’ll notice is that even though the EP is called ‘Teenager’, there is no song called ‘Teenager’. This makes me wonder if there’s a LVLS song we haven’t heard yet that might be on a future album, perhaps? What will strike you then as you listen to the EP all the way through is that this band is that the three songs don’t sound anything like each other. The brightness of EP opener ‘Echoes’ makes you seriously question the validity of the line on their About page in Facebook that reads “we met at a funeral”, or maybe that is typical Mancunian, post-Smiths self-deprecation. Everything in this song is just right: frontman Jay Gibbs’ alternately jaunty vs. emphatic single style with the kind of bravado not really heard since Simon LeBon in the ’80s, the gentle backing vocals from gals Emily Jane Conlon and Charlotte Hughes and the crashing guitar that won’t be denied accompanied by synth lines that refuse to not be heard.

But then the next track might confuse you. ‘Suzi Shoes’ begins its initial ascent with stripped back with its breathy lead vocal and sweet harmonising backing vocals, only to be accompanied lightly later with placid occasional bangs on a tambourine. I’m not really sure what they were trying to accomplish here to be honest. It’s like the unsatisfying, nondescript piece of cheese you might put in between two slices of really good bread, but I don’t think any placement change on this all too short EP would have helped matters. ‘Young and Cruel’, on the other end of the EP, seems to split the difference between the first two songs. It’s not as intense as ‘Echoes’, but it does a good job at indie pop. Gibbs’ vocal makes me think of Pulp’s ‘Disco 2000’ and Art Brut records: you know how Jarvis Cocker and Eddie Argos favour ‘speaking’ the verses instead really singing them? Some people love this, some people hate this. But if you like your Britpop dazzling with a good dose of New Wave-y synth, you can’t go wrong with ‘Echoes’.

Here’s to hoping they make an appearance at Liverpool Sound City this year so I don’t have to go traipsing to Manc again to find them.


‘Teenager’, the current EP from Manchester band LVLS, is out now in digital format and can be bought from the band’s Bandcamp. You can stream the EP below.

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5 Responses

12:03 pm
6th January 2014

New post: Album Review: LVLS – Teenager EP:

3:49 pm
6th January 2014

Uneven EP from newish Manchester synthpop band, but has promise. “@tgtf: New post: Album Review: LVLS – Teenager EP:

11:10 pm
6th January 2014

***REVIEW FROM @tgtf #teenagerEP <3 #STREAM #SOUNCLOUD

11:12 pm
6th January 2014

RT @wearelvls: ***REVIEW FROM @tgtf #teenagerEP <3 #STREAM #SOUNCLOUD

5:05 pm
10th January 2014

RT @wearelvls: ***REVIEW FROM @tgtf #teenagerEP <3 #STREAM #SOUNCLOUD

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