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Falling Off The Lavender Bridge

"A million miles from thrash and punk, the twelve tracks here are an unusual mix of indie rock and country, with top class musicianship adding lots of depth and colour..."

Rating: 6 / 10

Adrienne Murphy, 13 Feb 2008

Named after a comic strip character he used to draw in his maths book at school, Lightspeed Champion is the latest venture of Devonte Hynes, erstwhile member of the rather shortlived UK three-piece rock-with-overlays-of-thrash-punk-hip-hop band, known manfully as Test Icicles (something to do with an ancient practice of testing icicles for their suitability as weapons, apparently).

Regarding Test Icicles’ 2006 split, Hynes claimed endearingly declared, “We were never, ever keen on the music. I understand that people liked it, but we personally, er, didn’t.” So it’s no surprise that he's taken his new band in a radically different direction.

Lightspeed Champion’s debut album, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska by Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis, resulting in a quirky Rilo Kiley-type sound. A million miles from thrash and punk, the twelve tracks here are an unusual mix of indie rock and country, with top class musicianship adding lots of depth and colour to Hynes' well-structured, often despairing songs. His voice is counterpointed almost througout by the ethereal vocals of fellow UK singer-songwriter, Emmy The Great, who injects a bright lightness into the album’s heavy, densely-massed mood.

Repaying several listens, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge yields some sweet fruit, including ‘Number One’, the single ‘Galaxy Of The Lost’, ‘All To Shit’, ‘Midnight Surprise’ and ‘I Could Have Done This For Myself’, which starts off sounding like an orchestra tuning up – voices approaching from a distance giving it an atmospheric churchy feel – before building towards a climactic end that’s euphoric despite the depressing lyrics.

While it won’t knock you off your seat, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge should arouse the attention of country-twinged indie-rock fans.

Rating: 6 / 10
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Lightspeed Champion are fronted by former Test Icicle Dev Hynes. This, however, has little in common with the Tests’ oeuvre. ‘Galaxy Of The Lost’ actually has a vaguely operatic feel, with its lush string arrangement and OTT vocal dramatics: overall, it’s not dissimilar to the Magnetic Fields, and not far behind them in terms of quality, either.

REVIEW: 20 Aug 2007

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