When it comes to being championed by modern day indie icons, endorsements don’t get much better for The Lounge Society than Gordon Raphael. The American record producer is the famous name who discovered The Strokes in New York in 2000, producing The Modern Age EP, celebrated debut Is This It and their equally loved sophomore record Room On Fire. Let’s just say when it comes to guitar music, he knows what he’s talking about.
Just before lockdown floored the UK, Raphael made an unlikely move to the sleepy Northern English town of Hebden Bridge. The West Yorkshire location may not have had the same cultural capital of New York or Berlin, but it did have a guitar scene of its own worth investigating. This where The Lounge Society enter. After catching the band at a show at the local Trades Club, where they were supporting Working Men’s Club, Raphael was pretty impressed with what he’d seen. After the show, he’d approach them to ask if he could take them out for a coffee.
A friendship then thrived and an unlikely partnership began. Raphael appeared in their 2021 single ‘Cain’s Heresy’ music video and would offer constant big ups in interviews thereafter. As the Seattle-born producer would later reveal to the NME, the reason for this was simple: “Not only are they cool-looking but they can play like hell…this could be another chapter of rock music when it’s not supposed to be here”. When the guy who discovered a band as important as The Strokes says that, it’s hard not to sit up and take notice.
That’s not to say that The Lounge Society’s debut is a carbon copy of Is This It, though it’s hard to deny certain similarities. The Lounge Society produce a tight and infectious garage rock sound, creating tunes that are a mixture of detachment and immediacy. They’re also more introspective and experimental than the NYC indie legends earliest work, and that ensures a more intriguing listen.
Tired of Liberty was recorded over two weeks in November 2021 at the studio of Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey. On listening to the 11 tracks, it’s easy to hear a number of inspirations to the music, often from the wide range of the rock ‘n’ roll sphere – notably Gang of Four, Happy Mondays, Television, and even a hint of Radiohead.
“When will I feel comfortable around other people?” asks singer Cameron Davey on opener ‘People Are Scary’ – self-consciousness contrasting with a wonderfully funky jam which fascinatingly meanders in pace. ‘Blood Money’ carries a similar pulsating indie funk riff on a track taking aim at those who selfishly prioritise money over everything else (“You can see your boss but you can’t see your mother / Or your brother”).
On ‘No Driver’, there’s a hint of anxiety to the guitar riff, opening electronics and despair-filled lyrics (“But the black dog lures you, the black dog knows…you!”), whilst, on ‘Beneath the Screen’ the final third reduces any staleness by upping the pace and moving into welcomed head-banging rock breathlessness. Later on, they further explore the darkened rock sonics on ‘Remains’ – a deliciously ominous riff creating the most memorable track on the record. It soon pummels together into a crashing demise, with an outstanding ending to the song very much enjoyed by turning the notches up even further.
‘Boredom Is A Drug’ lends a lot to the funk groove of In Rainbows-era Radiohead and the erratic percussion makes for a near end highlight. It also delivers one of the best hooks of the album (“Boredom is a drug, boredom is a drug / has it hit yet?”). Here, the bleak lyricism does well to contradict the franticly upbeat sound to achieve something very far removed from boredom.
Where the record has swam with explosive ferocity and intrigue to this point, penultimate folky track ‘Upheaval’ strips back the energy and feels like a damp squib as a result, though it’s quickly saved by spiky epic closer ‘Generation Game’.
“You only get one opportunity at a debut record” states the band in a pre-album press release, “anything that follows, is just an evolution from that”. Over this breathless collection of songs, The Lounge Society seem aware of the need to create an impression. And overall they succeed. Whether Gordon Raphael’s prediction that they can create another “chapter of rock music” will come true remains to be seen. But either way Tired of Liberty is a whole load of chaotic fun.