Track by Track: The Lodger guide us through ‘Cul-de-sac of Love’, their first album in a decade

Leeds indie-pop trio The Lodger were regulars in these pages back in the first decade of the current millennium, releasing a string of lovely records through two of our favourite indie imprints of the time, Dance To The Radio and Angular Records, before going on indefinite hiatus in 2010. A decade later they felt the pull to reform, just weeks before the global pandemic plunged us all into lockdown. Thankfully they’d managed to get together in drummer Bruce’s shed to record the bare bones of 13 new tracks before the stay at home order was issued, and frontman Ben was able to add guitars, keys and vocals in his spare room, and Cul-de-sac of Love was complete – a perfect slice of DIY bedroom pop, which is out today on vinyl and digital download via four independent labels from around the world: Philophobia Music (UK), Pretty Olivia (Spain), We Were Never Being Boring (Italy/USA) and Lazy Perfection (Japan).

Ben kindly agreed to take us on a guided tour of the record, track by track:

Black And White (Pete’s Song)

I think I actually wrote this song in about 2006 and I kept holding it back for some reason. It’s just shy of 2 minutes and probably sums up the sound of the band pretty well, apart from a slightly daft shredding (politely) guitar solo. The (Pete’s Song) addition to the title is a tribute to a good friend of mine who died suddenly in 2011. It was his favourite song of mine.

Dual Lives

This was our “comeback” track which appeared online a few weeks ago. In 2019 I tried to write 100 songs in a year and failed woefully but this is one of the songs I came up with during that mad exercise of excessive composition. Bit of a Nile Rodgers/Let’s Dance influence going on with the riff and words I’m quite pleased with because they mean something. To me, anyway.

Wasting My Time With You

Another fairly old one, written in 2011 I think and intended as a song for the side project I did with Sarah from The Research called The Birthday Kiss but was never released. We slowed it down massively from that version for this album and I was seeking a kind of slightly narcotic early Spiritualized thing with lots of repetition and droney Farfisa organ and stuff like that. But nice.

I’m Over This (Get Over It)

I often set myself restrictions when I’m trying to write a song and with this one I was only allowed to use two chords. I’m always tempted to put billions of chord changes into a song to keep it interesting so this was a challenge. I suppose I was going for a kind of languid and lazy Baxter Dury kind of thing with this one.

Perfect Fit

Yet another oldie but goldie, written in about 2006 but never recorded. Perhaps I was saving songs in case I needed a massive hit single when we hit the big time. The day never came, cue the violins. Actually, cue the mellotron and string synth which both feature heavily on this and quite a bit of the album.

Cul-De-Sac of Love

The verse of this one is in 7/8, time signature fans. Towards the end of the song I tried to make a lot of weird Graham Coxon alike guitar noises and put the whole mix through a flanger. A lightly bombastic ending to Side A as I’m still daft enough to think of albums having two parts to them, despite the statistics showing that people don’t actually listen to albums anymore.

Stop That Girl!

This is the only song on the album that only has me on it. An unashamed ploy to indulge my Vince Clarke fanboy tendencies. An unconcealed attempt at a pure pop synth smash and a chance to learn how to use Ableton Live properly.

I Don’t Wanna Be It

This is probably my personal favourite song on the album. As a songwriter you sort of know when you’ve hit the nail on the head with something and when you haven’t quite but you paper over the cracks and hope for the best. The words are about imposter syndrome I guess and the music is a stab at the kind of power pop/pure pop thing I’ve always strived for when I pick up a guitar.

I Think I’ll Start Again

The first song I wrote when I decided to focus my attention on doing another album by The Lodger. A really short one about pressing the reset button. Got Smithsy chorus pedal all over it.

Former Life

This is another short and sweet one about clinging onto to a past personal identity that’s long gone. Time moves on so quickly you barely notice. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Lots of Casiotone organ on there. It seems I collect those now (well I’ve got 4).

No No No

This is another straightforward little pop song with acoustics and 12-strings. I experimented with building up loads of acoustic takes with different voicings and capos etc on quite a few of these songs for a Jeff Lynne / Tom Petty / Traveling Wilbury’s effect. No wait, come back!

There Is Something In My Eye

I remember this one taking a while to arrange because it’s got quite a few different bits to it and we wanted to make each bit stand out. It’s almost got a few different choruses this one. Similar songwriting approach as well where I’m going for less is more instead of shoehorning 28 different jazz chords into it.

My Poor Mind

The country one. Has our live guitarist Tim on it playing lap steel. I wanted to end the album on a bit of a lighthearted note with a shuffly ballad about a poor lovestruck sap who can’t shift an unobtainable lady from his thoughts. I was listening to a track by The Triffids called ‘Once A Day’ which is very country and has such a great sound to it, recorded live with a bunch of their friends whooping and clapping in the background. I wanted that for this but we actually finished the recording of the basic guitar, drums and bass the day before lockdown 1 was announced so by that point nobody could get with 6 feet of each other to whoop and clap so we had to bin that idea!

Cul-de-sac of Love is released today on 12″ vinyl and digital download via Philophobia Music (UK), Pretty Olivia (Spain), We Were Never Being Boring (Italy/USA) and Lazy Perfection (Japan).

Introduction by Paul Maps

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