Ah, September. The most depressing of all calendar months. The summer, or whatever semblance of it we’ve been fortunate enough to receive, is beginning to fizzle out; scores of teenagers are moping idly back to school; The Great British Bake Off is back on and infecting our television screens. If this run of 30 days were an album, it’d be Unknown Pleasures.
Yet, fortunately, it seems that this message has not yet reached the ears and eyes of Childhood, whose suitably-entitled debut in all of its blustery, sun-kissed glory, more than capably fills the void left by the rapidly-departing season. Opening track Blue Velvet, introducing itself with a sound that mimics the gentle grumbling of a thunderstorm before unfurling into a reverb-soaked romp lead by Echo Beach-guitars, underlines this obsession with drawing light from dark. Drying up post-summertime sadness with instrumentation that coasts valiantly through the mist.
Working inside a genre with a definition that’s now muddier than ever, Childhood’s brand of psychedelia has more than a few sonic similarities to contemporary indie’s elder statesmen. The synth-propelled Chilliad, eventually hijacked by plaintive guitar wails, could well be the twin brother of anything from The Horrors’ Primary Colours, whereas the vibrant and protracted Solemn Skies edges the band further into baggy territory, a comparison completed by a jubilant chorus key change that sings The Stone Roses. Elsewhere, the dreamy wash of As I Am appears to have taken extensive notes from the Klaxons’ Book Of Acid Lullabies.
But just because Lacuna is imitative, it doesn’t make it any less outstanding. In fact, the album successfully negotiates a happy middle ground between derivative and original. It’s there in the strung-out, winding melody of Tides, the romantic insistence of You Could Be Different, the meatier riff of Sweeter Preacher and all of the aforementioned. Recognisable styles given a fresh twist.
Many will declare Childhood lacking in substance or worse, a throwback to mid-noughties landfill indie, but when the cynicism starts to creep in, abide by their words and take them as they are, the architects of blindingly good psychedelic rock. A band to be adored.
Words: Dan Owens | Banner image: Laura Coulson