Who’d be a jangly guitar band in 2014? The current guitar palate is firmly set to chunky riffs and the Reading festival has seemingly reverted to the Metalfest of the 80s. Nonetheless, there’s an emergent clutch of bands smitten with the pristine sound of a stereo chorus guitar pedal. Being smitten is one thing; to really cut through a band needs a swagger and an indefinable charisma to make the masses fall in love with them. Childhood have both of these in spades and Lacuna (which means ‘a musical silence’ and fittingly taps into their lack of machismo) is one of the most thrilling guitar records of the year and establishes them as the leaders of the insurrectionist pack.
Childhood have been heavily tipped as ‘the band most likely to…’ since arriving at the tail end of 2012 with the peerless “Blue Velvet”, but rather than try and rush an album out they’ve wisely taken their time. Lacuna is ostensibly a record seemingly in love with the past, one can play spot the influences throughout, however they add a present and future tense to the story and make it their own.
They open the record with the aforementioned “Blue Velvet”. It’s a thing of unquestionable beauty and romanticism - the lovelorn lyrics are best summed up in the wonderful line “But I feel for you so…” The groove lollops along behind the John Squire infused arpeggios and the tender vocals are the cherry on top. It’s such a triumphant song you’ll be waving your arms in the air when you hear it for the first time, but Childhood have more wonders up their sleeve.
Leo Dobsen’s coruscating guitar rides all over Lacuna and forms a wonderful partnership with Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s heavily reverbed vocals. On “You Could Be Different” he makes one of his forays into a tremendous falsetto - Ladrock this isn’t. The dance music influences ebb through the nimble rhythm section, much in the same way that Mani and Reni used to carry the melodies and groove for The Stone Roses. However, Childhood are anything but copyists, rather a band who are unashamedly in love with their predecessors but striving to create a new colour of their own.
Upcoming single “As I Am” sees the vocals dialled up to funk with a capital F. It follows a similar structure to “Darling, Are You Gonna Leave Me?” by London Grammar, who certainly plough a more minimalistic path, but at heart both bands share a love of the song and an addiction to the groove. “Sweeter Preacher” goes somewhere else entirely and sees them put their shoegaze trousers on; it’s a huge guitar wail that will hopefully bring the wah-wah back into fashion.
On “Solemn Skies” you can see why Sonic Boom loves them so. It has a wonderfully cocky Jesus and Mary Chain swagger, the chorus builds and builds and then goes off on one a la “I Am The Resurrection”. Being a stickler this should have been the album closer, bookending their love of 60’s psychedelia with the tunesmithery of opener “Blue Velvet”.
The record actually ends with “When You Rise”, which sees them dip their toes into Pink Floyd “Interstellar Overdrive” territory. It’s a wigout in love with space rock and whilst their forte is blissed out guitar pop, that shows that they can riff out with the best of them if they want to.
The mighty Johnny Marr has given Childhood his regal patronage and a support slot on his upcoming tour. This will hopefully help this fabulously talented bunch of guitarslingers make that elusive and difficult leap from promising newcomers into superstars in their own right. Lacuna is a euphoric, ecstatic and effortlessly cool record which warrants your undivided and immediate attention.