It’s been quite a year for Wigan four-piece The Lathums, despite COVID‘s unrelenting attempt to decimate their startling trajectory. They’ve not let that stop them getting stuck in: they helped pull their hometown’s football team, Wigan Athletic FC, out of administration; performed in front of 5,000 people at Sefton Park; earned nods of approval from the likes of Tim Burgess, Paul Weller and even the Rocketman himself. And in between all of that, the Pemberton band have been slowly chipping away at their debut album ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’ during lockdown sessions with The Coral’s James Skelly.
While the initial rise of The Lathums has already drawn comparisons with the Arctic Monkeys, this record is very much steeped in the jangly sound of The Smiths and The Housemartins: jaunty guitars and anthems with swelling festival crowds in mind. Opener ‘Circles Of Faith’, for one, is drenched in a Johnny Marr-esque guitar line which frontman Alex Moore sings with contemplative Mozza-like fragility: “All of these things that are justified in life / No matter what you do / When the world is turning where am I? Where am I?” The album’s title track and the rousing ballad ‘Oh My Love’ is bathed in the same childlike innocence and giddy sense of hope as the mid-80s hit ‘Happy Hour’.
Yet while The Lathums may crib from their working class heroes, they don’t solely rely on them. Defiant standout track ‘Fight On’ – which has become a staple anthem in their live set – shows the strength of Moore’s own ability to write a tune. The element of personal loss that runs through the heartbreaking ‘I’ll Never Forget The Time I Spent With You’ and ska-spitting ‘I See Your Ghost’ shows Moore has his own trauma to tell, even if he is doing so reluctantly. “At night, I see your ghost / You’re gone but you feel so close / I see your ghost / I see your ghost,” he yearns on the latter.
‘Artificial Screens’ veers away from the band’s jaunty signature sound, giving way to dirty distorted riffs reminiscent of The Stones Roses as guitarist Scott Concepcion goes into full on John Squire mode. Album closer ‘The Redemption Of Sonic Beauty’, which finds Moore at his most powerful vocally, is a nod to John Lennon with its soothing piano keys and in the frontman’s delivery.
It’s a shame the band omitted rousing early anthem and live centrepiece ‘All My Life’ from the record due to “there literally being no room for it”. It’s easily one of their strongest tracks, but the fact they can leave it out and still succeed is testament to an album that brims with hope and heartbreak.
- Release date: September 24
- Record label: Island