It seems that Chemikal Underground are able to do little wrong these days and last week Emma Pollock released her second solo LP after the demise of the Delgados. ‘The Law of Large Numbers’ is both recognisably Pollock but also a step forward from her first record. It’s a good ‘un.
In truth there wasn’t a lot wrong with the songs on her debut but ‘Watch The Fireworks’ ended up as a collection of good, mature pop songs rather than a great record. Although they were fine individually, with the piano to the fore on many of the tunes there was something a litle samey about the songs when listened to in one go.
That may be down to having to write the whole LP without the contributions of Alun Woodward to offer variety but for whatever reason, in the longer term, the album hasn’t worn well.
Fortunately ‘TLOLN’ doesn’t suffer from the same problem. Emma’s guitar last time out was very much a supporting player but this time a number of the tunes feature robust guitar.
Taken overall there’s much more variety about the arrangements of the songs than was the case with the debut. The best two examples of this are ‘Nine Lives’ which features a 20’s influenced chorus, and ‘The Loop’ which opens with Emma acapella before some treated, spooky backing vocals give the song a different character.
The piano’s not gone either but used more sparingly on and to good effect on ‘The House On The Hill’ co-written with fellow Burns Unit member Kim Edgar.
What really makes TLOLN though is the tunes. There are some big hooks, including the chorus of ‘I Would Be A Saint’ and the staccato verse of ‘Red Orange green’ TLOLN just feels like a more focussed record than its predecessor.
Good news then that the return of Pollock to the fold has not just brought out the best in her but has also added to the label’s impressive recent track record.