Bubblegum Lemonade - The Great Leap Backward

matcd077  /  November 2016
Bubblegum Lemonade - The Great Leap Backward
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Bubblegum Lemonade - The Great Leap Backward

matcd077  /  November 2016

The superb new album from Scottish pop partisans Bubblegum Lemonade is the perfect reminder that old school indiepop never goes out of style.

‘The Great Leap Backward’ begins with the pulsating rhythms and big fuzzy chorus of ‘Hit The Ground Running’ and the post apocalyptical pop of ‘The Last Girl’ complete with jangling guitars, Shakespeare quoting, and beautiful vocal harmonies. Meanwhile, first single ‘Beard On A Bike’ is a pop classic, going straight for the jugular with an instantly catchy tale of a psychopath on a cycle path.

‘The Only Constant Is Change’ delivers contemplative pop with amusing word play and a constantly evolving vocal melody, while ‘Wishing It Were Friday’ is a prospective radio hit with plenty of pop culture referencing and some breathtaking 12-string guitars, and ‘Straight To The Heart Of The Sun’ has a more pensive feel with acoustic strumming, tambourines, and clever paraphrasing of the Boss.

Side two kicks off with the driving and assured title track ‘The Great Leap Backward’ with its Dr. Feelgood inspired opening riff and confident instrumentation. ‘Tongue Tied’ is another ace single contender with racing guitars, witty lyrics, and a fuzzy pop chorus, while ‘Summer In Your Hand’ is chiming, reflective pop with a fun psychedelic guitar solo.

The hypnotic ‘As Dead As Disco’ contrasts the bright optimism of Woodstock with the dark reality of Altamont using gently bouncing verses and an abrasive chorus. The album continues with the irresistible pop melodies of singalong smash ‘You Bring The Rain’ and comes to its chugging conclusion with the beautiful harmony guitar work of the effortlessly cool ‘Don’t Get The Last Train.’

Sporting extraordinarily catchy songs, spectacular melodies, and intelligent lyrics, ‘The Great Leap Backward’ is another modern pop classic for the impressive Bubblegum Lemonade catalog.

  1. Hit The Ground Running
  2. The Last Girl
  3. Beard On A Bike
  4. The Only Constant Is Change
  5. Wishing It Were Friday
  6. Straight To The Heart Of The Sun
  7. The Great Leap Backward
  8. Tongue Tied
  9. Summer In Your Hand
  10. As Dead As Disco
  11. You Bring The Rain
  12. Don't Get The Last Train


Blimey. There’s n’er a hair out of place on Bubblegum Lemonade’s new album, is there? It may be some three years since their last fusillade, but everything about this one - the absolutely 2016-apposite title, the sleeve, the luscious lashings of 12-string guitar, the arrangements, the lyrical wherewithal - picks up where that left off, and fits snugly into a super-cohesive whole. From kick-off to 90th minute, the Lemonade purvey their now readily-recognisable stylings, melting swinging-60s nostalgia (even Altamont vs Woodstock gets a look in) into a fine fourth-album panoply of upbeat, contemporary indie-pop. It would therefore be utterly invidious to pick out favourites. So… let’s get invidious. There’s the opener, “Hit The Ground Running”, which is as aptly titled a ditty as you’re likely to trip across anywhere in Christendom. The guitars chug and purr; the song settles into a steely groove; “I was born with a plastic tube in my mouth”, smiles Laz McCluskey, and off we go. There’s the driving, effortlessly melodic title tune, all set to soundtrack this post-truth world, which reveals harder-edged themes in the lyrics, barbed wire atop a musical bouquet. There are the nursery rhyme qualities of “Wishing It Were Friday”, which winningly spins out a depiction of dreaming the days away, punctuated by swooning instrumental breaks. There’s the onesie-warm fuzziness and neat harmonies of “The Last Girl”, which lightly drizzles ace pop hooks with references to the Bard. There’s the gorgeous, throwback whimsy of satisfying summer single and pseudo-road safety ode “Beard On A Bike”. There are the puns and chiming thrills that litter “Summer In Your Hand” and “Tongue-Tied”. Veritably, pop rains down in Glasgow, California. In the interests of balance and critical rigour, we've tried to find something, anything about the record that isn’t spot on. A passing lyrical reference to “Game Of Thrones” was a candidate (we’re much more down with the Scando cop procedurals), but that seemed a tad harsh. So we’ll settle for the fact that there’s not enough feedback. You may say that’s a bit unfair on Laz – after all, no album in world history has featured enough feedback, with the possible exception of the best album ever made – but as soon as our ears detect the merest hint of it at the back of the mix on “Hit The Ground Running”, we find ourselves praying it was turned up to 11. Also, as you know, we still hold a torch that glows like Ready Brek for Bubb Lem’s very earliest outings, when the pure, noise-as-pop influence of their East Kilbride near-(ish) neighbours was a soupçon more pronounced. —In Love With These Times, In Spite Of These Times

Sometimes simple songs are the greatest. Starting off with some brief feedback against a drum machine beat, the "real" drums come in along with a smooth, bright powerpop riff. The chorus kicks in with the melodic pop punk perfection of the Mr. T Experience. As the name implies, Bubblegum Lemonade isn't afraid to be sweet. The band is the work of Glasgow's Lawrence McCluskey, who prefers to be known simply as "Laz." Also half of the duo Strawberry Whiplash, the Scotsman has a strong penchant for 12-string Rickenbacker guitars, the shimmering iconic 1960s sound shining through every track on The Great Leap Backward (the group's fourth record). Despite the title's reference to 1958's tumultuous Chinese campaign led by Mao Zedong, the album is far from heavy. The lyrics are full of astute references, although they're sometimes overshadowed by childlike sections of "Wishing It Were Friday" and "Dead As Disco" (repeating lines like "I am Woodstock and you were Altamont"). This album is an absolute pleasure to listen to, a feelgood indiepop gem, all the while remaining decidedly sugary. —Erie Reader

Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey is but one man, but that one man has made a lot of guitar pop fans very happy today.  The reason, of course, is the release of The Great Leap Backward, the latest album from his solo project Bubblegum Lemonade.  Laz's head is hard wired with the sounds of '60s bubblegum pop, run through a late '80s British jangle pop generator with an infusion of The Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz, and then polished with a slight bit of surf pop.  The melodies are memorable and irresistibly bouncy, the hooks are sharp and abundant, and the  wordplay inspired.  You wouldn't have been surprised to find any number of these tracks in top 40 play back in the day of AM radio. The Great Leap Backward is released by California label Matinee Recordings. —When You Motor Away

How are you feeling about yourself today? Concerned with the impending doom of the USA election? Well, Laz and Bubblegum Lemonade want to make you feel better, they want to make your world better…and in order to do that they’re dropping this delightful new indiepop gem. You’ll get a steady little bounce, Laz’s warm vocals and infectious melody that keeps you spinning the song again and again. I’m worried about the future, but for three short minutes (and the 27 minutes where I played it on repeat) I was able to forget, lost in song. You’ll hear this tune on The Great Leap Backward, the newest release from the band…out this month via Matinee Recordings. —Austin Town Hall

Cuarto disco del grupo escoces, afincado en Glasgow. Y eso es algo que no podrán negar pues a la primera escucha, es la primera referencia que viene a la cabeza. Este “gran salto hacia atrás” presenta doce canciones en treinta y ocho minutos. Hagamos un símil culinario. Si ponemos en el mismo vaso del robot de cocina el título del grupo (limonada de chicle), el título del disco, echar un vistazo a la portada y las canciones tan cortas… ya os podéis imaginar a qué sabe el mejunje/ proyecto de Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey. Es indiscutible que las canciones como ejemplos de pop sencillo y directo funcionan. Otra cosa es que las canciones sean lo suficientemente buenas como para permanecer mucho tiempo cualquier colección de discos recomendables. Por corto que sea el disco, al final se hace un poco aburrido. Sí se podrían salvar de la quema “Beard on a bike”, “The great leap backwards”. —Revista Indie

Arrivato al quarto album del suo progetto Bubblegum Lemonade, Lawrence McCluskey ha deciso di mettersi in copertina, dietro al solito florilegio di colori pop che sin qui hanno caratterizzato il versante artistico della band. Bubblegum Lemonade, in effetti, da ormai quasi dieci anni è lui, McCluskey, con la sua nostalgia ossessiva per la scena C86, per quell'indie pop delle origini che non tornerà più ma da cui tutto è iniziato. Non ci sono particolari sorprese in The Great Leap Backward (titolo programmatico, mi sembra), appena uscito per la Matinèe Recordings: il guitar pop del musicista scozzese è quello che conosciamo, semplice e diretto nella sua confezione artgianale e priva di fronzoli (McCluskey suona tutto), pieno di melodie piacevolmente uptempo, chitarre frizzanti e liriche intelligenti. Lawrence è uno che sa scrivere canzoni, e alcuni gioiellini come The Last Girl, Beard On A Bike, la filastrocca Wishing It Were Friday, Tongue Tied, You Bring The Rain si succedono con apparente nonchalance, con quell'aria di colta improvvisazione tipica di Bubblegum Lemonade.  Rispetto agli esordi, può darsi che tutto risulti un po' prevedibile e che manchi un cambio di marcia, ma è comunque artigianato pop di alto livello. —Just Another Popsong

Tras el EP de adelanto, ‘Beard on a bike’, por fin podemos disfrutar del cuarto álbum del escocés Lawrence McLuskey tras el nombre de BUBBLEGUM LEMONADE: doce canciones en las que él se ha grabado todo lo que suena, a excepción de unos deliciosos y puntuales coros femeninos a cargo de Sandra, el 50% del proyecto paralelo de Laz, STRAWBERRY WHIPLASH. El de Glasgow muestra aquí una extraordinaria sensibilidad pop para componer deliciosos temas clásicos de estrofas y estribillo, a base de guitarras cristalinas, ritmos sencillos y luminosas armonías vocales. Tiene una gran facilidad para escribir incontestables hits pop, a base de estribillos certeros e irresistibles melodías que resulta difícil apartar de la cabeza, canciones que beben por igual del bubblegum pop de los ‘60 como del jangle pop de los ‘80, con pinceladas del surf pop, de THE BEATLES y de la psicodelia. Hasta tiene su momento bailable en “As dead as disco”, con un ritmo juguetón, y en cuya letra contrasta el brillo de Woodstock con la oscura realidad de Altamont. Consigue emocionar con el tratamiendo de naturalidad que da a sus propias armonías vocales o con el sonido mágico y a la vez sencillo que extrae de su guitarra, con esa devoción por las Rickenbacker de 12 cuerdas. Sin duda, estamos ante un disco sobrebio, sincero y honesto, sobrado de inspiración y talento, que debería figurar entre lo más destacado del año por cualquier medio o fan que se precie. —El Planeta Amarillo