What is the soul? What does it look like? More saliently, how can you tell whether you've got one or not?

What is the soul? What does it look like? More saliently, how can you tell whether you’ve got one or not?

The spurious issue of ‘soul’ has filled up millions of critical column inches. At one extreme lie Saint Etienne, sneering playfully at pop music, at the other lies Richey Manic, the blood streaming through his fingers as he brandishes his ‘4 Real’ razor work at [I]NME[/I]’s camera. Somewhere in the middle, fretting – and dithering, stand The Lightning Seeds; a band who, for all of their good intentions, can’t help sounding like a machine that makes – pop records.

Which brings us to ‘Tilt’; the fourth – Lightning Seeds album – the one where they go ‘dance’. If Ian Broudie‘s lyrical fixations – are anything to go by, making a record that – is dominated by the sounds of machinery is – a fatally flawed decision. ‘Tilt’ is the sound of – a man battling to sound like a ‘real’ songwriter over a musical backdrop which makes him sound like a slightly nasal, Scouse Dalek. – He’s singing about existential despair, but – due to the scaffolding of bloodless beats – and airbrushed synthesisers that surround him, he might as well be singing about hairspray or suchlike.

Consequently, the tragedy of ‘Tilt’ is the enormous lengths that Broudie has gone to in order to make his words ring true, bussing in songwriting partners like Terry Hall and Stephen Jones from Babybird. The implication that, like the Tin Man in [I]The Wizard Of Oz[/I], Broudie would do anything to have a heart, is obvious as he mutters about “looking for something deep inside” on ‘Get It Right’. It’s – a vicious irony, then, that the most – emotionally affecting song on ‘Tilt’, ‘I Wish I Was In Love’, is not unlike Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Man Of The World’.

For all of Broudie’s efforts, it isn’t a very good record. It shows a man ill at ease with – his gifts as a songwriter, stretching hopelessly for something forever just out of reach. Of – little reassurance, perhaps, but that he has messed up so royally with ‘Tilt’ makes – Broudie seem, for the first time in his career, strangely human.