This is a review of "Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion" recorded by The Lodger. The review was written by Rob Paul Chapman in 2005.
“TWONG!” That is the sound of a bedspring snapping as a fully-grown man attempts to replicate the “pogo”, a fairly basic dance move last performed by the subject in an indie disco circa 1995.
“CRASH!” That is sound of an ornamental knickknack falling to the floor having found itself in the way of a poorly executed, Pete Townsend-esque Windmill manoeuvre on the subject’s air guitar (which, since you’re asking, is an upside-down imaginary Telecaster ‘made-up’ to order in tribute).
“EERRRUUGGCCCHHHHHH…!” That is the sound two and a half minutes, one vase down and a broken bed later of our subject hurriedly scraping the needle across the run-out groove of the pristine 7” single that has been the cause of such mayhem and plonking it down at the beginning again.
In all seriousness, there are very few records that you come across as part of the doomed existence that is being an occasional amateur music journalist that make you want to career around the room destroying all furniture in your path, stopping only to occasionally gurn at the mirror with your best “live at Wembley” pained expression before careering off again past the wardrobes.
The debut single by The Lodger is one of them.
There are of course people who don’t like The Lodger. Everyone is of course entitled to his or her own opinion. However, allow me to carefully state the case for the defence, taking into consideration all the various points of view:
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? THIS IS BLOODY BRILLIANT! HAVE YOU NO EARS???
Right. Now that’s out of the way, allow me to continue. There are many reasons to love this record, but first and foremost it is just an exceptionally fine pop record.
Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion, the A-side is a magnificent example of all that can be great in a guitar-based pop song. It careers along as a thunderous pace underpinned by Bruce Renshaw’s frenetic drumming, but never distracting from Ben Siddall’s acerbic lyric and fey delivery. A bit like a less camp Jarvis Cocker chartering a Bull through a china shop.
At is heart is a half-riff of almost elementary simplicity, yet days later it will still have left an indelible imprint on the subconscious. It is bittersweet, flippant, funny, but ultimately, a really good tune. And at the end of the day, you can have all the technique and intelligence that you like, but if you can’t write the tunes, it is largely irrelevant.
Second track, Unsatisfied, is arguably even better. Significantly more bitter than sweet it makes a fine tribute to the relationship-weary. Slower and with an overriding air of melancholy, it pulls of the neat trick of converting the simple into the beautiful where many would have strayed into the bland. It’s the difference between someone who can string chords and words together and a genuine songwriter.
There are no production notes available with the promo, but whoever was at the helm clearly has an exceptional grasp of how to make a highly effective, yet understated use of reverb. Stand up and take a bow.
In fairness by track three, Let’s Make A Pact, the returns have diminished somewhat. Discarding the full-band version that has formed a staple of recent live shows, Ben returns to his roots for a one-man-and-his-upside-down-telecaster orchestration. It’s charming enough and the lyrics still raise a smile, but a lack of low-end support and an engaging arrangement send this treble-heavy mix dangerously close to “Leaning On A Lamppost” territory.
There’s nothing strictly wrong with it, but you get the feeling the impact would have been just as great with just a straight-forward A and B side. Still, a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.
However, more impressive than all of this, is that even only a small scale, Ben and co have succeeded in the first stage of their mission to liberate Pop from being considered something of a dirty word. One step towards recapturing it from the evil clutches of mesers Cowell, Walsh and Waterman. For that, we must be grateful.
The Lodger: Suitable for the inner child of all ages. May cause damage to property if left unattended.