Do you have anything in your digital music library by an artist about whom you almost know nothing? It could be just a song, or better yet, a whole album that you just love but of whom nobody else that you know has ever heard. You’re not even sure where you first heard of them yourself but you’re reasonably sure that they made their way on to your computer by way of Napster or Audiogalaxy or Limewire or perhaps some friend’s zip drive during the height of illegal downloading madness. You don’t have physical copies of the song(s) in question and this may be partly because you’ve never seen their CDs in the shops, new or used. Yet over the years this artist has come up, over and over, and gradually, the songs and/or album has become amongst your favourites. Is this sounding familiar at all or is this phenomenon particular to me?
The artist in question for me is Departure Lounge and what I’ve learned was their final album, “Too late to die young”. I still don’t have a physical copy of the album and I think it highly unlikely that I ever will, given that I’ve all but stopped buying CDs and the album was never pressed to wax. However, I can actually say I know a bit more about the group after listening to the album a few times over the past number of weeks and after making a concerted research on the internets. For instance, I was surprised to learn that the frontman, Tim Keegan, formed the group with Jake Kyle, both former members of Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians. And also that both of Departure Lounge’s full-length albums were released on Simon Raymonde’s (Cocteau Twins) record label, Bella Union.
With both Raymonde and Hitchcock making contributions to “Too late to die young”, I shouldn’t be surprised at how much I like the album. My understanding, though, is that it is somewhat different than its predecessor, the guitar rock base given an ambient veneer with production by French electronic musician, Kid Loco. Indeed, the sound checks off a lot of boxes for me. There’s some 60s trad rock, space rock, shoegaze, and even a bit of acid house baggy thrown in at moments.
Track four on the album is this brilliant and shiny and uplifting psychedelic number, “I love you”. It evokes bright colours and lava lamps and drugged up optimism. There’s a lot of haze in the hot box, washes of keys, horn flourishes and sighing harmonies. As Keegan sings, without a hint of irony: “It’s beautiful and true, I love you”.
It is beautiful and true and worthy of just laying back with a pair of earphones to let it all wash over you.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.