When you’re a member of a successful Scottish alt-rock band,
what do you do in your free time? Maybe
you form another group that mines soaring ‘60s pop as your outlet. John Lawler took this path and wound in
forming Codeine Velvet club while the Fratellis where on hiatus.
In both bands, Lawler leads the way, this time co-writing
and co-staring with cabaret singer Lou Hickey.
Starting with the sultry, smoky single “Vanity Kills,” the duo
fill their debut album with swinging pop, soaring strings and brass in a way
that wonderfully updates a retro sound.
Lawler/Hickey’s way with hooks are matched by their pleasing vocal trade-offs. After the single, there’s the bluesy/jazzy,
crunching rock of “Little Sister,” the dramatic, ascending opener
“Hollywood,” the sitar-hooked go-go swing of “The Black
Roses,” the noir-ish, heartbroken “Reste Avec Moi” and the
wonderful Motown rush of “I Would Send You Roses” serving as a few of
the highlights. It makes for such an
impressive, indelible album that you don’t care when Lawler returns to the
Standout Tracks: “Vanity Kills,” “Little Sister” JASON GROSS