This soft and sometimes sad debut is perfectly baked, but a little oversweetened
Autumn is coming. Colder, wetter, darker. Things you must do to survive: buy a chunky knit, stew some beef, huddle around an open fire, drink nutty ale, cuddle a Labrador, put on a sturdy coat and kick fallen leaves, buy Lucy Rose’s debut album. Because ‘Like I Used To’ hugs you hard then hands you a bread roll fresh from the oven. The Great British Bake Off music. Gently rueful opener ‘Red Face’ could soundtrack a sad-eyed soul mourning his ruined crème caramel. The chirpier ‘Place’ could do the same for Sue Perkins noting how clever it was to coat the meringue in a four-layered cake in white chocolate to stop the juice from the pears softening and ultimately collapsing the structure. It’s soft and kind.
But these are first impressions. All 11 songs on ‘Like I Used To’ are as tender as a purple bruise, and document an awkward relationship. On ‘Middle Of The Bed’, Rose, the 23-year-old sometime Bombay Bicycle Club vocalist, gets to the heart of the matter over acoustic plucking, snare-drum clips and handclaps: “I’m over it/Over you/All over the town they say I love you/They say I always will/These wounds they won’t heal”. It’s one of many sad moments. Another is ‘Shiver’, a song that feeds the album’s habit of sounding loads like ‘Parachutes’-era Coldplay. She says: “And we stole every moment we had to make the other one feel bad”, before asking, “If we turn back time, could we learn to live right?” It’s not ‘Blood On The Tracks’ or anything, but her words are raw, confused, scrawled diary entries – someone making sense of it all.
There is, though, an arc to ‘Like I Used To’, so just as you start sobbing on Lucy’s behalf, things look up. ‘Bikes’ is delighted with life when, out of absolutely nowhere, it busts out a xylophone solo. And on ‘Don’t You Worry’, Rose begins with: “You’ll take me home tonight/We both know that”, albeit over a violin hum that suggests it’s not as provocative as it sounds. Then, on the final two tracks – ‘First’ and ‘Be Alright’ – it all comes good, with Rose noting,“Yeah we’ll be alright”. It’s weird when you feel genuinely happy for her. And it’s because she’s honest, accessible, and we’ve all been there. Plus her simplicity makes a nice change from all the bloody drama queens in this world.
The problems lie with the fact that a lot of ‘Like I Used To’ is a bit ‘Kumbaya, My Lord’. Comforting? Yes. Exciting? Not quite. So there are choices ahead. She’s cool, connected and posh, like Laura Marling. Fantastically radio-friendly, like Katie Melua. Has Tumblr-using, Eastpak-wearing devotees, like Ed Sheeran. But also: capable of a wild tangent all of her own. Pick one, any one.