Sunday, 4 September 2011

Recommended music: 'Lights Out' by Big Deal

Big Deal are another of this year's duos, and definitely one of the best. Formed by 29 year-old KC (or Kacey) Underwood and 18 year-old (and beautiful) Alice Costelloe, this is a match made in whatever passes for heaven in your belief system. Opening with 'Distant Neighborhood' the album instantly drags you into their fragile world, where guitars and vocals are the only things that matter. There's no room for anything percussive anywhere on the record, which adds to the stoned beauty of the whole thing. Equally there's no real 'lead vocalist' as singing duties are shared throughout, and mostly both are singing at once.

'Chair' features the albums first great lyric - "only want me for the songs I write about you, about how I like you" - and is, like most of the album, about love. Costelloe alternates personas between the shy innocent and the sexed up vamp, aching with longing and lust. 'Cool Like Kurt' is a plea to be ravaged - "Take me to your bed, don't take me home, I wanna be old, I wanna be older" - in the best Lolita style. 'Swoon' is swoonsome, brief but lovely, although I'm not sure if they're singing 'the summer's coming soon' or 'Osama's coming soon' at the end, which might change the complexion of the song a bit.

First single 'Homework' is gently fragile, and is followed by 'Talk', which is the track that first brought the band to my attention. Any song that includes both a reference to the film 'Let The Right One In' and the lyric "All I wanna do is talk, but seeing you fucks me up" is alright by me, and the song perfectly sums up that teenage angst and unrequited love that we've all felt at some time.

'With The World At My Feet'  is probably the most up tempo song on the album, but even here you don't really miss the drums - the guitars provide enough rhythm, and there's even a guitar solo on this one. 'Locked Up' was originally the b-side to 'Talk' but has been re-recorded here, with shimmering guitars under the lines like "You don't have to be alone, maybe you're not, but you keep it locked up". Next up, 'Summer Cold' is a cool breeze on a hot summer's day, with lovely twanging guitar and perfectly matched vocals from the pair. Harking back to the early 80s, 'Visions' has more than a hint of Blondie's 'Dreaming' in both lyrics and melody, and is followed by the darker-tinged 'Seraphine' which has an air of goth to it. Closer 'Pi' leads with Underwood's vocals over an atmospheric backing, but it's not long before Costelloe joins him as they both lullaby us to sleep at the end.

If you were going to criticise this album at all you might say that on first listen it's a bit one-dimensional, being just guitars and vocals, but spin it a few times and you really begin to sink into the atmosphere of the record and appreciate what KC & Alice have crafted here.

Undoubtedly one of the best debut albums of the year, in fact one of the best albums of the year period. You can listen to the whole thing by clicking here, just before you rush out and buy it.

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