Bubblegum Lemonade - Sophomore Release

matcd057  /  November 2010
Bubblegum Lemonade - Sophomore Release
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Bubblegum Lemonade - Sophomore Release

matcd057  /  November 2010

Brilliant second album from modern Scottish pop revivalists Bubblegum Lemonade! The record is the highly anticipated follow-up to the celebrated 2008 debut album 'Doubleplusgood' and proves there’s no end to Laz’ pipeline of bubblegum pop hits.

‘Sophomore Release’ starts off strong with another airing of recent smash single 'Caroline's Radio', a fantastic Scottish pop classic that pays homage to offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline with spirited lead guitars and rich harmonies perfect for surfing the medium waves. ‘Maybe Someday’ is a mid-tempo hypnotic song with jangling guitars, a pulsing kick drum, groovy 60s bass line, and nice bits of glockenspiel, while ‘She's Got A Gun’ is number 3 with a bullet, featuring a fuzzy 12-string guitar intro and more ace harmonies.

‘You Only Leave Twice’ is a smashing little tune, boasting big 60s production, soaring harmonies, acoustic guitars, bongos, and more glockenspiel, while ‘We Could Send Emails’ is a clever nod to early Aztec Camera with poetic lyrics, a circular jangle riff, ba-ba-ba refrain, more 12-string guitars, and nice harmonies. Meanwhile, ‘Alice Please’ is slow-burning psychedelic pop that recalls fellow Scots The Bachelor Pad with its fuzzy stop-start guitars and rolling drum rhythm.

Side two of the album kicks off with the up-tempo ‘Living For Today’, a nice slice of ‘Darklands’-era Mary Chain pop with a shoegaze bridge leading to what is possibly the album's best guitar solo. ‘Girlfriend Ghost’ slows things down a bit with an atmospheric tale of relationships past complete with haunting counter melody and vocal harmonies that bring to mind The House of Love or various bands from the American Paisley Underground. ‘Autumn Sky’ is a page from Laz' autumn almanac, set in 3/4 time and boasting major seventh chords, a lilting rhythm, Beach Boys percussion, and more handsome harmonies.

‘You're Still Beautiful (When You're Sad)’ is another instantly memorable smash with 12-string intro, playful lyrics, and jangling chords that build to a ba-ba-ba conclusion. ‘When She Goes’ is a slow 12-string chimefest originally recorded by Laz’ former band The Search Engines now back by popular demand with Sandra of Strawberry Whiplash on backing vox and a nice Phil Spector-inspired drum pattern. Finally, ‘Last Train To Clarkston’ is an up-tempo album closer that pays respect to the Monkees with plenty of 60s guitars and loads of tambourine.

Inspired by all the right pop music from the past 50 years, Bubblegum Lemonade create insanely catchy and melodic songs filtered through their very own scruffy Glasgow charm school. ‘Sophomore Release’ builds on the great promise exhibited on ‘Doubleplusgood’ with a wide variety of song types, rich instrumentation, superb female harmonies, and enhanced production. A modern classic!

  1. Caroline's Radio
  2. Maybe Someday
  3. She's Got A Gun
  4. You Only Leave Twice
  5. We Could Send Emails
  6. Alice Please
  7. Living For Today
  8. Girlfriend Ghost
  9. Autumn Sky
  10. You're Still Beautiful (When You're Sad)
  11. When She Goes
  12. Last Train to Clarkston


I can't say I really like the lumping together of any kind of 'Scottish sound', but it's hard not to spot the Caledonian influences on Bubblegum Lemonade's second, wonderful album. There goes some Aztec Camera on 'You Only Think Twice', and there's a slew of 'Darklands'-era JAMC on stuff like 'Girlfriend Ghost', 'Maybe Someday', 'She's Got a Gun' and 'We Could Send Emails'. Add in a touch of Byrdsian jangle and you've got a potion that's pretty hard to resist. Laz McCluskey, for it is he, is nothing if not prolific. The beauty of this album is not that it's a JAMC-revivalist's wet dream, no; it's that it's at the same time steadfastly consistent without sounding like twelve slightly different versions of the same song. 'Sophomore Release' gives you a dozen pop gems without breaking sweat, and it's a huge hit with my 15-month old who goes crackers dancing every time 'Caroline's Radio' comes in. He's got taste. Not a Scottish record, then but very much a record from Scotland. I'm sure Roddy, Jim and William will be happy to have Bubblegum Lemonade as peers on this evidence.   --A Layer of Chips
My big complaint about bubblegum as a kid was that Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba and Bubblelicious all tasted great at first but they never had any staying power. After five minutes in your mouth all the sugary sweetness was gone and rubber bands had taken its place. Scottland’s Bubblegum Lemonade have no such problem on their second album intuitively called Sophomore Release. Somehow they’ve come up with a recipe where the sugary sweetness that initially hits your pallet lasts and lasts. Called modern pop revivalists, Bubblegum Lemonade revive Biff Bang Pow, Teenage Fanclub, touches of Darklands era Mary Chain, and even humorously reference Aztec Camera in the song We Could Send Emails. The single Caroline’s Radio made my top 40 of the year and it shows up as track one to pull you into the album, and then one man band Laz McCluskey goes onto beguile your ears for eleven more songs with generous use of his 12 string Rickenbacker that rings, buzzes and jangles through these 12 songs. He knows about pacing and mixing things up though, varying the instrumentation with glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, wood blocks and harmonies. As I’ve listened to this quite a lot over the last couple weeks, the subtleties have slowly made themselves apparent like the beautiful watery Moose-like guitars on Autumn Sky and the way You Only Leave Twice sneaks itself into your head with it’s melody and flamenco guitar solo. Bubblegum Lemonade’s Sophomore Release has long lasting flavor, so much that I bet if I stick it on my bedpost it won’t lose it’s flavor overnight.   --The Finest Kiss
Certain labels out there have a specific sound and the Matinée label, is definitely one of them. The label was founded by Jimmy Tassos about a decade ago in Tassos' then home of Washington, DC. Tassos loved the jangle pop sound of labels like Sarah and Creation and wanted to form a home in America where he could turn people on to those classic jangle pop records (by current bands) and he has been releasing records ever since (it originally began at Roundabout Mailorder in the ‘90s where Tassos carried rare jangle pop records from overseas). Scottish band Bubblegum Lemonade, led by the mysterious Laz (who plays everything on here and is helped out on about half of the tunes by Sandra on vocals), is yet another one of those bands. It brings to mind vintage early Primal Scream as well as The Byrds and fellow countrymen Teenage Fanclub. These 12 melodic cuts would do their homeland proud. Sophomore Release is, as you guessed it, the band's 2nd full-length (there was an EP in there as well). The sound is mostly mid-tempo, with a bit of distortion on the guitars, plenty of reverb and a cool surf beat. Opener "Caroline's Radio" (a single as well, apparently the song pays homage to an offshore pirate radio station called Radio Caroline) zips with melodic gusto while "She's Got a Gun" has a cool Spector bounce to it. Elsewhere "You Only Leave Twice" adds bongos and glockenspiel to the mix and "Living for Today" is another sugary, uptempo one in the Jesus & Mary Chain vein. The record closes with "Last Train to Clarkston", a Monkees homage that makes excellent use of the tambourine (guitars, too!). Laz is one guy who knows what he wants and knows how to go about getting it and Sophomore Release is proof. Sophomore Release expands upon the debut (Doubleplusgood) with added cotton candy and even better songs. Touché!   --Blurt Magazine
Essentially one-man band, Laz McCluskey from Glasgow, yet the sound is a full-bodied affair, with seering jangly guitars, producing a highly enjoyable helping of indie surf pop. The overall sound harks back to the sixties summer of love, with The Byrds being the most obvious comparison, but shaded with some merrier elements of The Jesus & Mary Chain. Whilst the guitars provide an easy flow to proceedings, the harmonies are also a focal point, plus a set of tremendous tunes. Top that with great clarity in production and the net result is an album producing a breeze of welcome joy.   --Clash Magazine
'Sophomore Release', which is subtitled 'Greatest Hits 2', is the wonderful new album from Bubblegum Lemonade, the solo project of Glaswegian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Lawrence 'Laz' McLuskey. 'Caroline's Radio' is a C-86 twee number which also has an element of Brian Wilson and which is as heartwarming and beautiful as it is perfect. It is a song which, like much of this album, leaves you with a big smile. 'Maybe Someday' almost has a Sunday morning Velvet Undeground feel, while 'She's Got a Gun' is a big time Rickenbacker pop number, a song to kick your troubles into tomorrow. 'You Only Live Twice' is acoustic and laid back, and, like early Primal Scream, charming with a cool 60's groove. 'We Could Send Emails' in contrast is much bigger in sound and is reminiscent of a prime time Beach Boys number. 'Alice Please' is something like a slowed-down Hefner track, but with beefy Rickenbackers. 'Living For Today' is big and jangly and sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain minus the feedback. 'Girlfriend Ghost' is slow, moody and lush while 'Autumn Sky' is a well thought-out number which jangles in the style of early R.E.M. 'You're Still Beautiful (When You're Sad)' again recalls Primal Scream and is lovely stuff, while 'When She Goes' again has an element of low key Jesus and Mary Chain. 'Last Train to Clarkston', which ends the CD, is a tribute to the Monkees' 'Last Train to Clarksville', but named after a Glasgow suburb and, loud and very cool, is the biggest-sounding number on the CD. A perfect album.   --Pennyblack Magazine
Bubblegum Lemonade is the brainchild of Scottish pop obsessive Laz McCluskey, who handles nearly all the instrumental and vocal chores himself, and on his first full-length album, 2008's Doubleplusgood, McCluskey wore his indie pop influences on his sleeve for all to see and hear. On the second Bubblegum Lemonade album, cleverly titled Sophomore Release, McCluskey again wears his indie pop influences on his sleeve for all to see and hear; considering that the vast majority of his inspiration comes from acts at least 25 years old, expecting any striking changes in his approach would probably be foolish, and ultimately, Sophomore Release is another variation on the same themes McCluskey has offered us before. However, if Bubblegum Lemonade haven't changed much this time out, Sophomore Release is recognizably more accomplished and confident than the debut; McCluskey's wall of jangly guitars is more solid and his technique more precise, the percussion is more assured, the harmonies (which include vocals from Sandra of Strawberry Whiplash, one of McCluskey's other projects) blend better and add a gentle sweetness, and the songs hit their targets with greater accuracy. Bubblegum Lemonade‘s world begins with the Byrds and the invention of jangly folk-rock in the '60s and ends as the C-86 bands were fading out later in the '90s, but McCluskey's continued study of this body of work (and continued application of what he's learned) yields results that will please anyone who thrives on classic indie pop. Someone once said that AC/DC keep making the same album over and over, but since it's a great album, why quibble? It's not hard to see something similar happening with Bubblegum Lemonade. McCluskey's objects of fascination and his interpretation of their magic has been thoroughly consistent so far, but the results are two albums filled with fine songs played with intelligence and enthusiasm. So as long as the bubblegum isn't broken, McCluskey need not fret about fixing it.   --All Music Guide
You probably can search the Internet for a good deal of time before you discover a lot on Bubblegum Lemonade, the Scottish group from Glasgow, who are currently part of the incredible roster on Matinée Recordings. We do know the band is fronted by Laz, who does work with some other groups, and that he’s a 12 string Rickenbacker enthusiast. Other than that, all you really need to know is that he’s released his second full-length, aptly titled, Sophomore Release; on top of that, it’s just one heck of a good listen. If you’ve been following the band, you’ll luckily notice the gem “Caroline’s Radio” from this year’s 7″ of same name. This song features crystal clear pop guitars, with a bit of distortion in the middle, and casually gentle vocals. Everything about this song echoes the band’s name, it’s pure bubblegum pop, in the greatest way possible. Personally, I dig the way the band sounds tight, as if you’re in the recording studio with them, as they stop and start at various moments throughout the song. Following this up, you’ll find a nod to another Glaswegian band, namely that of Teenage Fanclub, on “Maybe Someday.” Melodies are similar, though Bubblegum Lemonade seems like the squeaky clean younger brother, crafting harmonies, but weary of cramping big brother’s style. “You Only Leave Twice” is one of the song’s on the record that will immediately jump out at you. Up until now, Sophomore Release has had classy power pop jangles, but this song is more of a fire pit type track, featuring some tribal rhythms and acoustic strumming. Female backing vocals add another dimension, giving the impression that we’re all sitting around in a circle happily bringing joy to one another. Skip ahead a few tracks and you’ll find the catchy “Alice Please.” There’s some effects running on the vocals that provide a bit more distortion, making this a heavier song, which fortunately goes along with the number’s thematic issues. If you listen to the entire album from start to finish, you’re likely to discover that the entirety goes by quite breezily, yet brings you an undervalued sense of happiness. Songs like “Autumn Sky” just have this understated beauty, perfected by our man Laz here. It’s got a bit of atmospheric coating, yet done in such an innocent way that you’ll surely picture the singer giving you a smirk from behind the master tapes. Or perhaps you’ll find yourself falling in love with “When She Goes,” which uses some psychedelic guitar lines and female backing vocals to fit in just another moment of whimsical exuberance to Sophomore Release. From start to finish, this album doesn’t offer you a bad track, nor one that you can skip as you look for that hidden gem. Everything about the delivery, the innocence and the magic of pop music lives within the walls of Sophomore Release, which should make us all rejoice in the fact that secretive figures craft some of the most incredible power pop that will ever fall on our ears, so cheers to that Bubblegum Lemonade.   --Austin Town Hall
There’s not a heck of a lot of information out there on the one-man band that comprises the jangle pop revivalist Bubblegum Lemonade. Basically the brainchild of Glasgow, Scotland’s Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey, and deriving its name from a Mama Cass (aka Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas) album, there’s little else that can be said about the, erm, “group”. Bubblegum Lemonade is about as low profile and obscure as it gets, which makes hearing the not-so-imaginatively titled Sophomore Release (yes, it is the second official full-length album, not counting a handful of EPs) all that more wonderful. Bubblegum Lemonade is a throwback to the sounds of ‘60s jangle pop groups like the Byrds and the sun-bleached psychedelia of the early ‘80s Paisley Underground with some Jesus and Mary Chain-esque elements injected for good measure. The sound is light, it’s bubbly, and it’s a little bit twee. And, for the most part, it works. The enigmatic McCluskey has a real handle on his song craft, even though the end results found on the 12-track Sophomore Release are hardly original. He’s going back to a simpler time of music making, recalling an era when Top 40 albums weren’t computer processed to death—and this is something he relishes with glee in the liner notes by stating that the album is 100 percent Auto-Tune free. Here, you get nearly pitch-perfect recreations of gold sounds from popular music’s past that are unleashed in quick two to three minute bursts. McCluskey is a skilled re-creationist, which is evident in the list of instruments used on the record as stated in the liner notes: You’ve got your standard Roger McGuinn Rickenbacker 12 string guitar. You’ve got a bass plugged into a Marshall amp. You’ve got your groovy red plastic tambourine (not just a tambourine, but a red one). And let’s not forget about that shaker egg to stir things up. Does that sound like fun to you? That sure sounds like fun to me. The album kicks off with “Caroline’s Radio”, which pays tribute to the ‘60s offshore “pirate” radio station Radio Caroline, and has a jangle pop quality to it that is unique in that it has a start-stop stutter in its verses. The song references the Beach Boys in its lyrics, and I would go so far to add that it has a sunshiny vibe that recalls the early hits of said band, if not the Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation”. When McCluskey intones “Caroline knows” in the song, it is a wink and a nod to Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No”, which was originally titled “Caroline, I Know”. If anything, this illustrates that our man certainly has a knack for incorporating music history on a multitude of levels into his songs. And the hits keep coming from there. “Maybe Someday” features a slinky bass line and more jingly guitars than you can shake a fistful of quarters at, but it also broods in the best tradition of the Jesus and Mary Chain. “She’s Got a Gun” has a kind of masculine Camera Obscura quality to it, which is only natural considering that they, too, hail from Glasgow. The goofy “You Only Leave Twice” follows, with a softly strummed acoustic guitar and bongos as the main means of percussion backing it up. “We Could Send Emails” is a delicious slice of twee with infectious “bah bah bahs” introducing the song, which could pass for a shoegazey Teenage Fanclub, another band that comes from Scotland—notice a pattern emerging here? The recycling of sounds continues with the memorable “When She Goes”, which was a song originally recorded by McCluskey’s former band, the Search Engines, and is the closest thing you have here to an actual cover despite the fact that all of these songs sound like they belong to other bands. Closing track “Last Train to Clarkston” even recalls the L.A. ‘60s pop of the Monkees, and not just by making a passing reference to “Last Train to Clarksville”. It is so exact and note-on that you could easily mistake the tune as one being done by that prefabricated American band. While the tracks here are fairly strong, Sophomore Release’s production values, to an extent, could have used a bit of tweaking. Though the sound is generally crisp and clean, there are a couple of songs here that have a touch too much fuzz on the guitars, making my stereo speakers, which didn’t come cheap, crackle a bit. I’ve found no mention of a vinyl release anywhere online, and I would argue that Bubblegum Lemonade is crying out to be released on that medium, where one can be a bit more forgiving to guitars pushed just a smidge into the red. Still, the songwriting is pretty much impeccable and “Laz” isn’t kidding in the liners when he welcomes listeners to “Bubblegum Lemonade’s greatest hits volume two!” There isn’t really a bad song to be found on Sophomore Release, even though I’m not crazy about the hazy, laid-back acoustic mid-tempo “Autumn Sky”, which does serve a utility in varying things on the record by being written in 3/4 time, or the plodding “Alice Please”. That said, there isn’t really a stellar “Oh my God! You have to hear this!” moment on the album, either. The songs here are simply workmanlike, skilled, serviceable and sturdy. I even had the impression listening to this that many of the songs would make memorable B-sides, in that they are well-executed, but have a sort of disposable, throw-way quality to them—which, I hasten to add, is not necessarily a bad thing. For that reason, those who miss the glory days of ‘60s pop and have pretty much exhausted music along those lines wouldn’t really go wrong picking up Sophomore Release. The songs here will give you a bit of a head buzz and they are generally pleasing, even if McCluskey isn’t really the next incarnation of Brian Wilson. For that, Bubblegum Lemonade is probably destined to be mired in obscurity, but if you have a little extra coin in your pocket, you can’t go wrong discovering the jingle-jangle to be heard on Sophomore Release. The taste is sticky sweet, and is, at the best of times, ultimately downright memorable, even if it goes down merely as a reprocessing of styles. Sophomore Release is simply good stuff.   --Pop Matters
Like the 2008 self-titled debut, Sophomore Release is a joyride through C86 country that finds its home somewhere in-between Jesus & Mary Chain’s Psychocandy and Primal Scream’s Sonic Flower Groove. From the smoking opener “Caroline’s Radio” which pays tribute to the famous pirate radio station of the same name with its Who-like power chords in all the right places, to the clever early Aztec Camera homage “We Could Send Emails,” to the infectious “She’s Got A Gun,” Bubblegum Lemonade’s second album is the furthest thing from “sophomore slump.” As on the debut, Bubblegum Lemonade is pretty much just Laz, a multi-talented Scotsman who gets a little help on backing vocals from his friend Sandra of the likeminded Strawberry Whiplash.   --The Big Takeover
Sophomore Release is Bubblegum Lemonade’s, uh, second full-length. It is a fantastic record filled with saccharine, well-crafted pop tunes. I will save you the trouble of having to make an obvious inference, but I love this record. Bubblegum Lemonade is the brainchild of Laz (who, for whatever reason, did not decided to go by simply Lawrence), based in Glasgow, Scotland. Laz is an impeccable songwriter, musician, and is also a pretty funny fellow (as evidenced by Sophomore Release’s liner notes commending the listener on their exquisite taste in music as well as proclaiming the album 100% auto-tune free). As you listen to this record, it is clear that Laz is hopelessly devoted to the pop song. In his music, you can hear everything from the Byrds and the Beach Boys, to the Rain Parade and the Razorcuts, to the Primitives and the Jesus & Mary Chain, to Sunny Sundae Smile-era My Bloody Valentine. It is not difficult to imagine this record coming out on Creation, Sarah, or Cherry Red. The comparisons that I just made may seem commonplace in the contemporary indie rock scene. The great thing about Sophomore Release is that it has solid musicianship at its core and Laz’ sincerity shines through. The entire record is phenomenal. The tracks that stand out the most in my mind are the jangly “Caroline’s Radio”, the extremely infectious “Maybe Someday”, and the paisley-colored “We Could Send Emails”, which is a 21st Century update to Aztec Camera’s “We Could Send Letters”. My favorite song on the album is the slow and noisy “Alice Please”. I dare you to not get this one stuck in your head for weeks. What are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy from Matinée Recordings!   --Blue Aurora Audio
It’s fairly obvious Bubblegum Lemonade mastermind Laz McLuskey probably has a better record collection than you. In a fine Scottish tradition, Bubblegum Lemonade mine the vaults of Jesus and the Mary Chain, toss in some Beach Boys, and add a pinch of Scottish twee. The result is a bouncing collection of tunes that takes the ghosts of rock past and brings it into the present.   --Life, Faith and Theology (Best of 2010)
Taking a lot from both the Byrds-ian jangle of early Sarah bands and the fuzz-pop of the Jesus & Mary Chain, Bubblegum Lemonade are clearly influenced by a lot of their Scottish forebears. Mostly the work of just one man, Laz McCluskey, with the occasional female backing vocal, the LP and EPs they've released so far have been choc-a-block with pop classics, and this second album (see what they did there?) is more of the same. Opening song and lead single 'Caroline's Radio', a reference to the pirate pop radio station Radio Caroline, gets the album off to a great start, with a great melody and a definite Teenage Fanclub vibe. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein - there isn't a bad track here, and McCluskey doesn't fall into the trap of so many indiepop bands of making it very hard to distinguish between the songs. It all sounds just like McCluskey is having fun, throwing bongos, tambourines and glockenspiels into the mix at varying points on the record. This album is easily identifiable as a Matinée Recordings release. Matinée were formed in the late 90s as a way of reviving the classic jangle pop sounds of labels like Sarah and Creation. This album is a definite part of that lineage - there really is nothing new here at all, and it's unlikely anyone will be listening to it in even two years' time, but for now it is just a fun record with great catchy tunes and jangly guitar. I can see Bubblegum Lemonade continuing like this for a while - even though it is extremely unlikely they'll ever release a hit record, they could well carve out a cult following in this bubblegum pop niche.   --The Punch Table
What happens when a Glasgow guitar player loves The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Monkees? Apparently we get Bubblegum Lemonade, the project of Laz McCluskey, who took the name from the title of a Mama Cass album. The sound is all about powerpop jangle that wouldn't be out of place on a C-86 compilation, and you'll get no complaints from me about that.   --When You Motor Away
Bubblegum Lemonade (along with the female fronted Strawberry Whiplash) is the life’s work of Glasgow, Scotland’s Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey. Sophomore Release is the second (natch) release of C-86 styled indie pop from Bubblegum Lemonade, and it doesn’t stray too greatly from the band’s first LP, Doubleplusgood, not that there’s anything wrong with that. McCluskey was born, it would seem about 40 years too late, as his sunny, effervescent mod-pop would have been better suited for the swinging London of 1964. Bubblegum Lemonade sound like a band that would have influenced The Jesus and Mary Chain, like some sort of long lost golden oldies group that never was. There are nods to 50’s teeny-bopper pop, some light psychedelic flourishes, and even a beatnik inspired, bongo-beat-led jam or two on the album. Most of the songs are about girls, or listening to the radio, or girls listening to the radio and make me nostalgia for a time I never lived in, and maybe never even existed in the first place.   --Pop On Purpose
Bubblegum Lemonade es el proyecto personal del señor Lawrence “Laz” McLuskey de Glasgow quién mientras produce música conserva su trabajo ordinario para no padecer necesidades. ‘Sophomore release’ supone el segundo álbum de este apasionado del pop más clásico, en el sello Matinée, que contiene doce caramelos del mejor pop. El primer single que se extrajo del disco fue “Caroline’s Radio”, homenaje a la legendaria radio pirata. Lawrence sigue influenciado por los Jesus and Mary Chain más pop, y cuenta con el talento y la inspiración necesarios para facturar un deslumbrante álbum del que se podrían extraer varios singles.   --El Planeta Amarillo
La banda escocesa Bubblegum Lemonade publica su esperadísimo segundo disco llamado "Sophomore Release", un suculento manjar para nuestros oídos, con un total de doce preciosistas canciones, cada cual más intensa que la anterior. Podríamos definir la música creada por este personaje llamado Laz como pop atemporal de intensas guitarras y brillantes melodías que hacen disfrutar tanto a un público curtido en mil batallas, como a aquella persona que poco a poco se esté acercando, sintiendo y comprendiendo la esencia del pop más clásico. "Sophomore Release" está editado por el prestigioso sello Matinée y contiene perlas tan sublimes como este "You're Still Beautiful (When You're Sad)".   --Avec La Participation De
A quarant'anni suonati ormai da un po', il rubicondo scozzese Lawrence McCluskey non pare proprio voler mettere la testa a posto; mentre la maggior parte dei suoi coetanei, verosimilmente, comincia a confondersi col grigio invariabile della sua Glasgow, concedendosi al massimo qualche pinta di birra o trepidazioni calcistiche in occasione dell'agguerritissimo Old Firm, il buon "Laz" non la smette di scatenarsi imbracciando la sua inseparabile dodici corde, come se fosse ancora un teenager e come se per le strade della città risuonassero ancora le note di band quali Pastels e Teenage Fanclub. A dire il vero, le note di queste band sono ancora familiarmente attuali, nei pub e per le strade tra Ibrox e Celtic Park, a testimonianza del fatto che a Glasgow (e non solo!) l'indie-pop di qualità non è questione di religione o tifo calcistico, né, tanto meno, di età. Così, giustamente incurante delle transitorie mode musicali, McLuskey aggiunge un secondo tassello alla breve storia dei suoi Bubblegum Lemonade, una delle due incarnazioni sonore - accanto agli Strawberry Whiplash - nelle quali si esprime il suo irrefrenabile desiderio di divertirsi creando canzoncine immediate e apparentemente divertenti, eppure segnate da quell'inevitabile velo di malinconia e rimpianto che, appunto, null'altro sa incarnare meglio del pop. Ecco dunque, a due anni esatti da "Doubleplusgood", un'altra agile collezione di canzoni della perfetta durata "radiofonica" di due-tre minuti: dodici brani racchiusi in poco più di mezz'ora di musica contrassegnata - non senza una certa dose di tautologica ironia - dal titolo di "Sophomore Release", quasi a scimmiottare il lessico invalso in certo mondo "indie", dal quale, appunto, un quarantenne dichiaratamente affascinato dagli anni Sessanta continua a tenersi distante anni luce. Benché l'impatto chitarristico e le melodie killer di "Doubleplusgood" sembrino leggermente temperate nei solchi di questo "Sophomore Release", "Laz" e compagni riescono nuovamente a creare l'incanto tardo-adolescenziale di un pop fuori dal tempo, divertito e divertente anche quando narra di abbandoni e assenze ("When She Goes", "Girldfriend Ghost"). Per fortuna, infatti, c'è sempre la musica a fare da valvola di sfogo e veicolo alle emozioni più immediate; così, mentre la nostalgia prende il sopravvento in un paio di episodi ("Maybe Someday", "Autumn Sky"), riecheggiando uggiosi scorci britannici - dai La's ai Clientele, dagli Smiths ai Jesus & Mary Chain - la Caroline protagonista della traccia iniziale (oltre che singolo d'anticipazione) si aggrappa alla radio a transistor per ricevere onde che le consentano di evadere dalla solitudine della sua stanza, in un quadretto nel quale suoni e immagini riportano con decisione agli anni 60 e 70. Non mancano, comunque, brani scatenati e irrimediabilmente contagiosi, di quelli che dopo appena un paio d'ascolti si attaccano alla mente, come un chewing-gum zuccheroso ma dal retrogusto asprigno. Basti pensare, oltre alle citate "Caroline's Radio" e "Girlfriend Ghost", a canzoni quali "She's Got A Gun" e "You're Still Beautiful (When You're Sad)", fotogrammi da un'adolescenza da non nascondere sotto apparenze di artefatto intellettualismo, ma semplicemente da ricordare, con ormai distaccato equilibrio, ma anche con la romantica nostalgia di un tempo che non tornerà più, e proprio per questo da rispolverare, di tanto in tanto, con spirito lieve e divertito. In fondo, non sta tutta qui l'essenza di questo adult oriented pop che non ha alcuna intenzione di conformare il proprio spirito all'età anagrafica? Rivolgersi a un certo Lawrence McCluskey per credere.   --Ondarock
Il fatto che dopo tutti questi anni la Matinée continui ancora a sfornare i suoi bei dischi a questo ritmo io lo trovo rassicurante. Forse vuol dire che non tutto è perduto. Una certa ostinazione tra stile e ingenuità che sarebbe bello fosse più apprezzata. Ora per esempio è la volta di Bubblegum Lemonade, ovvero lo scozzese Laz McCluskey, giunto al secondo album, guarda caso intitolato Sophomore Release. Il singolo che lo apre è dedicato al mito di Radio Caroline, l'emittente pirata nata nel 1964. Ma un po' tutto il suono di Bubblegum Lemonade è intriso di atmosfere Sixties, e anche quando tenta una maggiore irruenza rimane sempre un imperturbabile Pop dalle melodie squillanti, nipote dei Byrds e figlio dei Teenage Fanclub, con qualche altra parentela più lontana dalle parti del C86.   --Polaroid
Dire que le bien nommé Sophomore Release était attendu est un euphémisme: même si chaque sortie du label Matinée Recordings représente un petit évènement en soi, l'arrivée d'un successeur à l'excellent Doubleplusgood est bien plus qu'une bonne nouvelle. En appliquant la même recette - celle qui avait fait le succès de son premier album - Lawrence «Laz» McLusky se plaît à poursuivre son chemin dans un genre qui lui sied si bien. Nostalgique des radios pirates, l'Ecossais offre, avec Caroline's Radio l'entame parfaite à ce second long-format. D'une efficacité remarquable, le titre propose une alchimie parfaite entre pop 60s et rock 80s. En effet, avec cet entrain si propre aux Beach Boys et une insouciance digne du Doolittle des Pixies, Bubblegum Lemonade surprend par son aisance. Les riffs du Glasvégien ne manquent d'ailleurs pas de nous rappeler au bon souvenir du Velvet Underground: il y a du Sunday Morning dans Maybe Someday; quant à When She Goes, on se plaît à y voir le reflet d'Here She Comes. Ainsi, d'emprunts subtils et inspirés, en compositions tout à fait actuelles et modernes, cet aspect symétrique, présent le long de Sophomore Release, fait également tout son charme. Au final, il parvient difficile de ne pas poursuivre les analogies et de ne pas évoquer l'Orange Skies de Love à l'écoute du Autumn Sky de Laz McLusky. Et lorsque l'entrainant Last Train To Clarkston vient mettre un point final à ce second chapitre musical, on ne peut s'empêcher de souligner une gémellité avec son ouverture. En définitive, Bubblegum Lemonade continue donc de nous ravir avec ce qu'il sait faire de mieux: une musique racée, aux multiples références datées, mais toujours aussi originale et truculente.   --Tweendie