"Good things come for those who wait." It's a hackneyed cliché, but the statement rings strangely true for Teenage Fanclub's bassist, vocalist and founding member, Gerard Love. After over two decades contributing to the Scottish band's trademark pop sound, a mixture of Byrds-like harmonies, ringing guitars and melodies loaded with hooks, the shy TF bassist slows things down, steps forward, straps on a guitar and leans into the mic under the moniker Lightships. With Electric Cables, Love offers a collection of self-penned songs exposed to the warmth of sunlight -- in very subtle ways.
Amassing a band of old and current musician friends, including original Fanclub drummer Brenden O'Hare, Belle & Sebastian's bassist Bob Kildea and, most importantly, current TF multi-instrumentalist Dave McGowan, Love explores his subtle side with Lightships' debut full-length. While compositions for TF such as "Radio" and "Sparky's Dream" tended to be more upbeat, the Lightships downshift shouldn't came as a complete surprise if you caught the somber "Sweet Days of Waiting" from TF's 2010 release, Shadows.
On Electric Cables, Love expands on that feel, employing deep influences, which include Stereolab, Television, the sound techniques of famed '60s producer Tom Wilson and various UK '60s pop groups (most specifically The Small Faces). However, afforded the stability of being in a single band since the late '80s, he's also been able to mature as a songwriter. His subtlety, rather than eagerness to break out, melds into his compositions like cream into coffee.
Love creates a late afternoon vibe with Electric Cables' opening cut, "Two Lines," which features two interweaving guitar lines: a fluid lead guitar line snaking in between a repetitive rhythmic chiming riff. The effect is reminiscent of the subtle guitar lines flashed in Television's 1992 self-titled reunion recording. A skipping guitar line that propels "Sweetness in Her Spark" highlights the value of McGowan's contributions.
For "Every Blossom," Love borrows cues from Wilson, whose production credits spanned from Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel to The Velvet Underground. Love employs glockenspiel and flute to add an overall pop sound akin to VU's "Sunday Morning." Beach Boys-French pop mixtures of Stereolab cast a shadowing influence on the psychedelic haze of "Muddy Rivers." "Silver & Gold" marks Love's greatest departure: Opting to sing in a near-falsetto, he builds the arrangement from a spare introduction that eventually blooms into full color by the chorus.
Electric Cables is a satisfyingly slow-burning pop record that gains appreciation after repeated play. It demands that the listener slow down and listen. The rewards parallel the atmosphere it creates; it's a perfect platter for that time of day when one wants to experience the fading heat and light of the summer sun as it quietly descends.