Those of us who are far too indie/jangle-pop nerdy for our own good, might well remember a band called The Kites who I vaguely recall seeing in a pub somewhere near Plymouth way when I went to visit my mate who was at University there in the early 1990's. Impressed enough to still remember them in the YouTube years, I was able to dig out a recording of their gloriously jangly 1994 single Faster (link here).
25 years later and after about 25 bands have stolen their name, the four-piece are now based at the opposite nautical end of the "Dockyard Derby" (only UK football fans will get this reference !) in Portsmouth and have built upon the salty sea dog theme by adopting the new name of the Lost Ships.
Thankfully they are still great and play a similar type of indie/jangle-pop as previously although they have undoubtedly added just that bit of muscularity and maturity to their general sound.
The opening title track (see below) sets a very high bar. Here Darren Hayman's muscular Hefner era indie-pop meets the slightest essence of the The Decemberists style folk-pop and juxtaposes both against gloriously fibrous jangle-pop that insists on imbuing originality into every musical pore. It is a more meaty sound than the fluttering jangle-pop of The Kites but consequently even more appealing.
The next track, Rose Sings The Best Tunes, distances itself away from the under-cooked raw essence of indie-pop and adds several bells and production whistles to the mix to give the aesthetic a more pop-infused edge. Complete with two choruses, one of which goes full pop stretching out a gloriously ear-worm ba dadada.
If you have a melodic soul that is clinically dead due to listening to too much industrial grime or angry Afro American types rapping an insistence that everyone they do not like is likely to be engaging in sexual intercourse with their own mothers, then you might not sing along....the rest of you will not be able to help yourselves. Luckily the track stops well short at becoming a Travis tribute by virtue of the fact the jangle-pop infusion never threatens to become subservient.
The EP then moves on to the most aggressive of the four tracks with Half Life. Here a Teenage Fanclub influence would take centre stage if it was not for the fact that the bass is too prominent. As such it becomes a beguiling mixture of the prettiness of TFC and the more pugnacious sound of Buffalo Tom all wrapped up in a tempo that displays the nearest this band is ever likely to draw close to 'anything power-pop'.
The final track, Here's What You Could Have Won (see above), is the stand out track of the release and sees the band revert back to their jangly indie-pop default mode. Whilst the tempo of the music and vocal delivery decreases significantly in comparison to the other tracks, their is still that infinitely alluring jangled guitar work infiltrating virtually every moment as the band release the best Fortuna Pop! era Darren Hayman that he Hayman never recorded. This is a truly wonderful track and is free for download at Bandcamp at present as well !
It is perhaps easy to see why The Kites did not quite take off in the early 90's. They missed the 80's jangle-pop glory years in the UK by a few years and were way too pretty to survive the onset of a Britpop era that celebrated lad culture like none before or after.
However there is certainly a place for such beautiful indie/jangle-pop in the musical oxygen of today and a band like Lost Ships will only help to ensure it stays crystal clear.