By Codeine Velvet Club
What has Jon Lawler, lead singer of The Fratellis been up to of late? I'll tell you ... he's been collaborating with Glaswegian singer-songwriter Lou Hickey. The pair have tapped into the age old formula of boy with haggard drawl meets girl blessed with a voice of angelic candyfloss. I'm talking Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl; I'm talking Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell; I'm talking Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. Lawler and Hickey complement each other excellently. His characteristic strained Scots is charmingly sugar-coated by Hickey's gentler, feminine, Sandie Shaw-esque vocals. His voice is the Codeine, narcotic and numbing; hers is the velvet, silky and soft.
'Hollywood' kicks off with a suitably booming retro Christmas sound. There's definitely more than a splash of Wizard style saxophone and jingly percussion laid on here. A Christmas single to challenge the X-Factor dirge, please?! The record abounds with a 1960's big brassy orchestral production twinned with simple, timeless pop melodies. What's brilliant though is that cutting through the poptastic musicality is a hard satirical edge that tells tales of drunken binges, vanity, gambling and love affairs gone wrong.
Songs like 'The Black Roses' and 'Reste Avec Moi' have a sultry, sleazy bassy sway to them. It's the addition of the 'what recession?' orchestra that really brings class to the songs. The string sections, multilayered percussion and expert sax and trumpet blasts are what make this album sound like a nostalgic collection of Bond themes. And it's lyrics like, "pour some champagne and refrain from moving on" and "my love for you was endless like a full moon dead on the sea" that add to the dramatic, cinematic, indulgently extravagant feel of the record.