While a slew of millennial bands have clearly discovered groups like The Smiths, Psychedelic Furs and The Church as of late, for the most part, most simply sound like glorified cover bands that are dipping into ‘80s post punk and new wave for some form of ironic nostalgia.
It’s refreshing then to hear new music from a band they came into the post punk world authentically. The Scottish group Close Lobsters put out their debut in 1986, but it was that follow up three years later, Headache Rhetoric, that earned them a following in the U.S. thanks in great part to college radio and indie music magazines. And then they called it a day.
Almost three decades later, the band has reformed and returned with what is their most consistently satisfying record yet. They put out a frustratingly short EP in 2014 that did little but tease before they disappeared yet again. Getting past the unnecessarily pretentious album title on their latest effort, the 10 tracks here are both reminiscent of some of the best the 1980s had to offer in left of the dial music – from Aztec Camera to Echo & The Bunnymen – with a slightly contemporary tune-up. The guitars, when not pulling off a swirling psychedelia vibe, offer a steady jangle pop backdrop to Andrew Burnett’s hypnotically steady vocals. Most impressive is the fact that this album was recorded in spurts in 2014, 2016 and 2019 and still manages to have an impressively cohesive sound.
It’s hard to single out tracks from the record, but “Under London Skies” has a feel of timelessness; it could just have easily come off the band’s debut 30 years ago. The same goes for the album opener, “All Compasses Go Wild,” with its confident bass line leading throughout and a strong pop vibe that draws you in immediately. Lyrically, the band is ambiguous enough (though not quite at Michael Stipe level quirkiness) that just about anyone could find their own meaning in the songs. Another nod to a time when lyrics weren’t necessarily so simplistically obvious.
Close Lobster’s latest gives a look into the potential the band had to be one of the more influential groups to come out of the 1980s if they hadn’t disappeared. Hopefully, this is a sign that they plan on sticking around for a while.