Lowgold : Just Backward Of Square

In case you didn't know, the title is a cricketing reference....

In case you didn’t know, the title is a cricketing reference. You know, the long, slow game where nothing much happens. If the Zen qualities of cricket appeal to you the sitting down, the quiet concentration and the endless minutes sat waiting for something interesting to happen then have we got a record for you. It’s the debut album by sombre romantic combo Lowgold and if the Brits had an award for Mildly Disappointing First LPs, ‘Just Backward Of Square’ would be a surefire favourite.

If you’ve been keeping a close watch on hotly-tipped British pop groups, you’ll know that Lowgold, the songwriting release valve of singer Darren Ford, have thrilled the nation with a trio of ace singles in the last six months. The good news is that they’re all on their debut album. The bad news is that, aside from the stately ‘In Amber’, ‘Beauty Dies Young’, and ‘Mercury’, there’s precious little worth recommending other than Lowgold’s excellent Aerial M impression on opening track ‘Golden Ratio’. ‘Just Backward Of Square’ gives in without a fight. It all chugs along at the same pace and gives off the depressing air of a band who ran out of genuinely exciting ideas about two seconds before they set foot in the studio.

‘Out Of Reach’, ‘Counterfeit’, and inevitable ‘epic’ closer ‘Into The Void’ scuff around in interminable twilit half-darkness, seemingly bereft of any kind of musical imagination. It all gives the nasty impression that maybe Lowgold only had the one trick all along.

What’s all the more distressing about that conclusion is that anyone who has seen them live will know that they are capable of so much more. As a living, breathing act, they can produce thrilling moments and Ford has a much better sense of humour than anything here would lead you to believe.

‘Just Backward Of Square’ is a leaden collection of nice but unspectacular songs which could be by pretty much any anodyne glum indie band from the last 15 years. Which leaves Lowgold as the Coldplay that you want to punch slightly less. A good, solid, workmanlike outfit who raised all of our expectations just a little bit earlier than they raised their own.

“Make the most of today for beauty dies young”, sings Ford. It sounds despairingly like an epitaph.

Jim Wirth