This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by The Lodger. The review was written by Tom Goodhand in 2004.
When Ben (the tunesmith for The Lodger) released his first three-track demo as a solo project, it showed that his taste and song writing were spot on. The recordings (it being a one man and his Cubase job) may have been far from perfect, but what was undeniable was the quality of this man’s tunes.
Pop. There, I said it. There is a lot of pop music here. Nowadays, pop has come to mean whatever Pete Waterman is throwing in the direction of twelve-year-olds, but lest we forget that once upon a time, The Kinks and The Beatles were pop. Pop shouldn’t mean throwaway tat, but real songs. Songs that are happy to go verse-chorus-verse, songs that are happy to be catchy, songs that make you want to sing along. The Lodger do all three of these things, and do them bloody well. What really stands out on this demo is how the songs have improved by being properly recorded with a proper band. Bruce’s drums give all three tracks an added pace and drive that was absent from ‘The Bedroom Tapes’, whereas Lisa’s basslines may not be complex but they really carry the tune, and take some of the pressure off Ben and his Telecaster. When Lisa adds occasional backing vocals, she really makes you want to join in as well. And why not? I did.
Essentially however, this is Ben’s show. These three songs are his songs, and it is his voice that is prominent. But that’s OK, because it is Ben’s song-writing and willingness to sing in his own accent that really makes these tracks standout. Ben would probably be the first man to admit that his voice isn’t, in traditional terms, great, which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work with these songs. What you hear on this demo is a very personal, unique sound. There are elements of Ben’s influences in there. ‘Unsatisfied’ has a bit of Coxon in it, ‘Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion’ recalls Elvis Costello and The Buzzcocks in equal measures, but what this demo really has going for it, is that the songs can invoke numerous fantastic bands, without you being able to say oh, well there’s his Blur song, there’s his Kinks copy and so on. So the whole way through the demo you struggle to put your finger on what each track reminds you of. The answer is probably every pop song you’ve ever loved.