2006 album by the Sheffield, England-based band The Long Blondes. The Long Blondes sound so much like Blondie (but a British Blondie) on this album, it's not even funny (other obvious influences -- Elastica). This is a sort of a concept album, one might even say a rock opera, with the unifying theme being the burning passions in the life of a teen-aged girl. This album is all about what an absolute nightmare it is to get through one's teen-aged years. But it's not as dark as all that, really (don't expect Suede), the bleak angst is restricted to the subtext.

The text is much more on the romantically thrilling side of things; the album paints the life of a teen-aged girl in very lusty, passionate strokes. Not that you are ever tempted to feel nostalgic for your lovely salad days. God no. There is not much envy from The Long Blondes toward the putative protagonist of the album (they sing "Oh, how I'd love to be a girl your age once and never again"2) and little approval of her life-choices ("Nineteen. You're only nineteen for God's sake. Oh, you don't need a boyfriend!"2), but tons of sympathy ("I know how it feels to be your age and feel the world is caving in"2) and support. The protagonist has none of that though. She knows she's right, and she gives as good as she gets, rebutting "So never-never-never tell me it's a pleasure being alone. All I have here with me are the records and the books that I own. Nag! Nag! Nag!"1.

The bulk of the songs on this album are about jealousy and unrequited love. (In fact, tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12 can be counted so.) If this wasn't a concept album, where the songs are to come from the mouth of the putative protagonist, these would be some of the more pathetic torch songs ever. The proganoist oscillates between groveling to her love subject ("it's obvious that you're a man that's after her own heart, but you know where I am and you know that you could have both") and lashing out at his ("looks are the first weapon, charm is the second. I reckon that she doesn't have much of either"3 and "I'm waiting in the wings for you to make your first mistake, so watch out, girl!"5).

But, to take this part of the subject-matter of the album as the whole is to miss a deep exploration of the teen-aged headspace, much of which has to do with being convinced you are the most put-upon individual in the world, apparently. Much of the particular headspace explored in this album, consequently, is filled with a cultural fascination with tragic and romantic figures, as the protagonist namechecks "Edie Sedgwick, Anna Karina, Arlene Dahl"1, "C.C. Baxter from Wilder's Apartment"8, and "listen(ing) to Saint Scott Walker. On headphones. On the bus"8. The three final songs on the album don't seem to be part of the album concept, but they fit very well thematically and stylistically nonetheless.

This is a no-filler, fast-paced, thoroughly-enjoyable, multi-sided, and well-rounded mini-rock opera -- a remarkable feat for a young band's full-length debut, no doubt.

Track Listing:

  1. Lust in the Movies
  2. Once and Never Again
  3. Only Lovers Left Alive
  4. Giddy Stratospheres
  5. In the Company of Women
  6. Heaven Help the New Girl
  7. Separated by Motorways
  8. You Could Have Both
  9. Swallow Tattoo
  10. Weekend Without Makeup
  11. Madame Ray
  12. A Knife For the Girls

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