To be underwhelmed by The Fratellis was an easy task to accomplish; their catchy but lifeless pop melodies, senses-dulling guitar hooks, and lyrics such as “I was good, she was hot/Stealing everything she got,” didn’t do them any favours outside of the British mainstream. When I woke up today (Friday), I finally got round to sorting through a selection of promos I’ve been sent recently. Incredibly unprofessionally, I proceeded to listen to them in order of best cover art, and Codeine Velvet Club‘s cover for ‘Vanity Kills’, struck me straight away.
The second thing that struck me was the name; Codeine Velvet Club. Whenever I hear ‘velvet’, one of my first connotations is with the Velvet Underground, and the prefixing ‘Codeine’ linked me, straight away to the 60s recreational popularity of cough medicine abuse on stage; when codeine was still an active and more prominent ingredient. The only song that graces the promo here is ‘Vanity Kills’, a catchy and effortlessly smooth, pop classic that breathes cabaret and jazz, as much any high society gal of the 60s could have mustered.
My surprise here comes from the partnering of the vocals; the boy hooks come from Jon Lawler (frontman of the aforementioned, Fratellis), while female credit lies with the jazz princess Lou Hickey. Her creative spark for a wonderful jazz melody and signature groove, is truly awakened by Lawler’s ability to craft masterful pop music.
It would have been a huge shame if Vanity Kills was the only track they penned together; here we have a collaboration that brings out the best that each songwriter could achieve, a pastiche that far outstretches anything that either have accomplished in the past. A brilliant partnership has been formed here, and its one draped in a glamour, romantic seediness, and undoubtable, sexual oompf that frankly is missing from today’s pop music. Codeine Velvet Club are one of the most exciting new groups in Britain, and more so than anyone else of recent years, provide the most refreshing, nostalgic, throwback to the 60s girl/boy pop we’ve seen.