So Long John Fante

So retro it's like returning to the womb.

In his book Retromania, Simon Reynolds took pop culture to task for having an unhealthy obsession with its own past. Here in the third millennium we’re still recycling melodies, lyrics and recording techniques from a sweet spot in the mid twentieth century. Some (me in the pub) have argued that cultural conservatism leads to post-capitalist stasis – that if we had a few more musical futurists western society mightn’t be so thoroughly plucked.

But that’s a tipsily complicated argument (me in the pub) and you could alternatively hold that there’s nothing wrong with taking comfort in retrospective loveliness. What The Lost Brothers produce is unrepentantly and unrelentingly retro and unrepentantly and unrelentingly wonderfully lovely. Like fellow crooners Richard Hawley and the Leisure Society, The Lost Brothers have their sights set on an idyllic and idealised past (specifically: an Everly Brothers recording session in the early sixties), and listening to them successfully obliterates the hard, cold present. They gently sing romantic lullaby-like melodies in close-harmony, accompanied by suitably folky acoustic guitar-picking and harmonically rich string melodies, all wrapped in vintage-sounding reverb.

The best songs include (aptly titled) opening track ‘Golden Dawn’, with it’s circular guitars and medieval melody, ‘Oh Brother’ which tilts amiably towards Hank Williams territory, and the jauntily sad/melancholically optimist ‘Bells They Won’t Ring’.

It all coalesces into such a heart-warming whole that carping about its retro leanings seems churlish and ungrateful. In fact, I’m going to bed to listen to the Lost Brothers for a decade or so. Call me when the economy improves.


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