All the song titles on this album are anagrams of each other, the concept going back to a couple of years ago when we were trying to come up with a band name.
While we are now a six-strong band, at the time it was just the two of us, so we put “Simon and Lee” into an anagram generator and one of the results was Lemonade Sin.
But we also ended up with a list of a dozen or so other possible names that sounded like they could be song titles. This was ideal as we write the songs together and find that having an initial lyrical concept for a set of songs works well. In this case, we got together and talked about what each of these songs might be about and that was our starting point.
We started recording this song during the first lockdown, adding our parts remotely, including Robin who spent a day adding keyboards while on a Zoom link so we could check up on him and give encouraging words.
We then sent everything to Lucy Board, who is the drummer in Pale Blue Eyes with her partner Matt, but the two of them also have a recording studio in Devon. She added drums and some extra synths before mixing it. We were quite overwhelmed when she sent it back; it sounded so good. That’s when we knew we wanted to make the album with them.
Melanie doesn’t like to say no to anyone so she always agrees and gives the sense that everything’s cool. And then she just disappears because actually she doesn’t want to be part of this anymore. That’s not necessarily a criticism. She knows what she wants and doesn’t want to risk someone’s persuasive skills making her do something she doesn’t want to.
The song that started the whole project. Having chosen our band name, we started thinking about what “lemonade sin” might mean. Lemonade is a soft drink, so maybe lemonade sins are soft sins, ones that don’t really hurt anyone. We realise this may be a theologically dubious approach.
A simple piano melody knocked out during an immersive songwriting session, quickly became this dreamy, Velvets-inspired tune about being deliciously lost in a field with friends at 2am. Inspired by being at the End of the Road festival, where they do indeed have love letters cut into laurel leaves.
While we like to share out vocals, this song is the most duetty one on the album. The two singers are providing different perspectives on the same situation. They met, they fell in love, but now they clearly want different things. The woman is ambitious and desperate to get away from the town they grew up in; the man is deeply rooted to this town with no wish to leave. They are now living apart, trying to make a long-distance relationship work and in denial about the inevitable outcome.
Our producers, Matt and Lucy, thought the song reminded them of Fairy Tale of New York, but we resisted any moves to add sleigh bells.
A nice easy one for the band to play as it only has two chords, though it’s quite a work-out for our drummer.
The trumpet is played by Lucy and we’re very much hoping she can make a cameo appearance at our live shows, but in her absence we’re using a couple of melodicas.
Who is Solemn Diane? She’s quite humourless, but sometimes a group of silly, trivial people need someone like that to provide an anchor. Diane may not quite get the jokes, but she is incredibly loyal and that is reciprocated by the others.
It’s an uptempo disco song, but with an inherent melancholia about it, which we really love.
A grungy tune that Lee had hanging around for a while but wasn’t quite there. Then Simon took it all to bits and reassembled it with added seasoning. Musically, we love how it goes from grungy 5/4 to 90s melancholy, to the Pearl & Dean advertising-inspired ‘’babababas’.
Lyrically it’s about age and decay, loosely about being examined through the artist’s gaze, asking them to record every detail of a body as an honest account – draw me now, like this quick because it’s all fading fast and I need you to remember every detail of what used to be.
A song about anger and about feeling you’re almost possessed as you watch yourself say horrible things to someone you care for deeply.
Perversely perhaps, we ended up channelling our inner-Abba for this song with a few references to the work of the greatest pop group of all time, though hopefully quite well disguised.
Yes, we do have a band visit to Abba Voyage booked for later this year.
Mild Neon Sea
The lyric was inspired by ‘Heavy Women’ a poem by Sylvia Plath about pregnancy and birth, alluding to the sea, presumably the waves of labour. The poem was the scaffold upon which we added our own ideas before removing every vestige of the original.
Musically it took a while to develop with numerous versions to-ing and fro-ing between Devon and London, but when we got it, we just knew it was right. It feels like something you’d listen to on a yacht. We love how it builds from a gentle, languorous, slightly latin feeling in the initial verses, towards the more urgent and persistent end. We find it especially joyous when the duelling recorders appear in the outro
A Seldom Nine
The nine is a reference to the GCSE grade formerly known as A*, ie the highest mark you can get. The educational references continue with the concept of “three stars and a wish”, which is how teachers are meant to respond to children’s work – hiding the criticism among praise.
Interestingly, in writing these notes, we discovered that we saw the song’s meaning in quite different ways. Simon thinks it’s about writing a song and that feeling when an idea comes together and you’re really buzzing about it. For Lee, it was about awarding yourself a nine because you win at fucking up but not much else.
The song took an age to come together, starting off as a thrashy punk song that ultimately felt a bit fake. We then gave the lyrics a new tune, initially with quite a mellow feel before deciding that it needed to be properly discoed up.
The layering up outro seems to be something we’re quite keen on, introducing real drums, Lindsey Buckingham-esque guitar lines and, inevitably, a melodica.
You can buy a download and CD of Anagrams through the band’s Bandcamp page