reviews - February 2009
The evergreen Lost Patrol return with their sixth studio album
proper and a new singer. Shocking isn’t it? At least it is if you
know The Lost Patrol. The very idea of that band without Danielle might
have some fans breathing into a bag. No need to panic. Read carefully.
The Lost Patrol have a new singer. This isn’t like comparing Violet
Indiana with Cocteau Twins. It’s still the same band. Pink Floyd,
Genesis, Joy Division, Ultravox… all these bands can attest to the
fact that losing a singer can be overcome. Setback, yes. Show stopper,
never. These lucky patrollers have unearthed another jewel in Mollie Israel.
How do they do it? Beats me. The other factor I’d venture to suggest
here is that great bands are never about one single star element. Remember
it was Morrissey AND Marr (and Joyce and Rourke). The Lost Patrol weren’t
a great band because of Danielle. She was part of it, sure, but the whole
band were special.
Enough of the biography update. To Midnight Matinee then and
of course we needn’t have worried. All the trademark Lost Patrol
elements are there – the soaring siren vocal, that delayed Mosrite
twang, the dreamy, child-like imagery. Sugar and spice and all things
nice. That could be TLPs motto. And yet it isn’t quite the same.
There’s a paradigm shift in the way vocals interplay with band dynamic.
Mad as it might sound, Mollies’ voice suits the music more. There’s
less edginess. The ‘unsettled reverie’ vibe that they conjured
in the past, (earning comparisons with David Lynch movies) is diluted.
Our new-look New Jerseyers render a track like ‘Homecoming’
more pop, more accessible than it might have been in Danielle’s
hands. This is the nuance that I believe separates todays Lost Patrol
from the old. I mentioned Violet Indiana earlier but the comparison is
more akin to ‘late versus early’ Cocteau Twins. In other words
Midnight Matinée could sit on any coffee table alongside Four Calendar
Café. Only the occasional time signature (‘Fades from view’)
approximates the otherworldly howl of Head Over Heels.
Like all Lost Patrol records there are standouts. Personally
I’m drawn like a moth to the light, warm melancholia at the heart
of the album. ‘Colours turn grey’ and ‘Serenade’
are up there with the bands best work. The vocal and guitars during the
chorus of ‘Serenade’ are beautifully strained. The less effective
pieces are the ones which re-tread old ground. (‘Silver City Sunset’)
It is the curse of all uniquely identifiable bands enjoying any sort of
longevity (e.g. New Order) that they inevitably begin plagiarising themselves.
But I don’t think TLP fell into this trap blindly. I have the nagging
feeling Midnight Matinée was conceived almost as an introductory
vehicle for Mollie. It may have been a statement of intent – ‘Look
at us. We’re unaffected.’ – that kind of thing. The
Lost Patrol are better than that. They’ve consolidated, played it
safe and stuck to what they know. They’ve given us Buffy when we
wanted Blade, sugar when we craved spice. I liked the risks and the edge.
The best tracks show the way. More ‘Serenade’, less lemonade,
The lovely Miss Israel may well be their new gem. I just hope she has
the imperfections to go along with her polish. Nice start though.
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