Lightning Love – Blonde Album

January 01, 1970

(Quite Scientific)


Lightning Love has hit on a potentially winning mash of
elements. The cracks in singer/songwriter/keyboardist Leah Diehl’s little-girl
voice, and her self-described “neurotic” approach are enough, in themselves, to
compel one towards the 10 short tracks of Blonde
Also arresting is the tense, almost counterpoint-ish polka between
Leah’s keyboards and her brother Aaron’s percussion. It’s such a tightly
appointed room, you nearly want to shout encouragement when Ben Collins
incorporates some tasty George Harrison guitar tones near the end of  Blonde
‘s opener, “Together.”


Lightning Love has generated enough buzz (with its ’08
debut, November Birthday, and a
four-song EP that dropped  last January, Girls Who Look Like Me), to be saddled
by some expectations. Two from the latter are repeated here (“I Know,”
“Deadbeat”).  LL exhibits some chutzpah,
albeit maybe not the best marketing sense, in leaving off the EP’s addictively
quirky standout, “When You Sleep.” So, does Blonde
have anything like “When You Sleep” on it?


Not exactly. But that song’s up-close allure is replaced by
examples of LL advancing, expanding, incorporating. “Awkward,” “Orange Glow,”
“So Easy,” and “Bobby Thompson” are upbeat, impermeably bouncy pop that break
the band’s otherwise nearly theatrical format. The  ultimate show-stopper is a quietly concise,
piano-with-vocals tearjerker, “I’ll Never Love No One Else.” It adds meaning to
the album’s cover photo of expressionless mannequin faces. As does another
mourning song, “Our Love Is All Gone.”


Is Blonde Album (a) entirely cohesive; and/or (b) an Album of the Year contender? Answers: (a) No; (b) Ask me in a month or so. Is it an impressive set of unusually intimate,
idiosyncratic-while-ingratiating, verging-on-brilliant tracks? Yes. And if Lightning Love keeps pumping
inspired songs out at its current rate (after this album, releases are planned
for October and early 2013), I won’t be surprised if “album of the year” ends
up among a number of accolades fueling Leah’s anxious musings.


Never Love No One Else,” “Together,” “Deadbeat,” “Bobby Thompson” MARY LEARY

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