When I caught Longitude’s live show at the Cornerstone New Band Showcase, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. Whereas most bands seem like they want to rock out, to really let loose while on stage, Longitude seemed the exact opposite. That impression was doubly confirmed while listening to Alright. This is a band that’s at their best when playing lethargic, bedroom pop. It’s not “slowcore” — it’s still got too much of a kick in the pants to fit in that genre’s glacial pacing — but it has a laid-back vibe to it that didn’t translate too well to their live show. But their CD is another thing entirely.
At Cornerstone, they were compared to Pedro the Lion, but that comparison is loose at best. Pedro the Lion writes songs that are best for pondering life and love while lying on your bedroom floor. On the other hand, Longitude’s music may be great for pondering such weighty thoughts, but only if you’re on the open road. Like The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Stoned and Dethroned album (a slightly more valid comparison, if you ask me), there’s a “let’s listen to this while meandering along I-80 with the top down on a warm summer day” vibe, minus the Reid brothers’ Scottish bile.
Actually, a much better comparison would be Luna, especially on “Rockness,” where it even feels a little blatant. Although three of the band members share vocal duties, they all have that certain Dean Wareham-esque drawl to their voice. It makes for music that’s laid-back and relaxing without seeming like insincere and lightweight fluff. But when they need to rock out, they certainly do so, as on the “blink and you’ll miss it” explosion on the otherwise mellow “City Song.” And since there are 3 vocalists, there’s some nice vocal interplay going on throughout the album. The real gem is “I Think It’s Time,” which culminates in a choral explosion that would make Jason Spaceman proud.
I’ve probably thrown out more than my fair share of comparisons and dropped more names than necessary. And I’m afraid that might make Longitude sound like a rip-off. But I’m here to assure you that’s not the case. True, it’s really easy to see where these four fine lads are coming from, musically. But that’s not to say they’re insincere or flagrant about it all. And to counter any ideas that Longitude is just regurgitating old musical ideas, there’s the bluesy “Abel’s Motown Swing” which just feels like a relaxed jam session, and the rollicking “Train to Schipol” which borrows a little from Havalina Rail Co.‘s school of “jamming.”
Longitude seems like the perfect “nice guy” group. On stage, they looked just like a couple of average guys who spent way too much time in their room listened to Sonic Youth. But they don’t take themselves too seriously, like some in the indie community might do. The result is an album of honest, relaxed indie-pop that might be a little on the innocuous side at times, but still comes off as solid and heartfelt. If they wear their influences on one sleeves, at least they’ve got their hearts pinned on the other.