When the Long Blondes burst onto the scene with their 2006 debut, the UK press was just as excited about pouting punk lead singer Kate Jackson’s charity-shop fashion sense as it was about her band’s fuzzed-up new-wave excursions. Two years on, the quintet may still be concerned with kitchen-sink lyricism and vintage fashion finds, but the only costume in question this time is sophomore album Couples’ messily assembled black-and-white collage cover that disguises a fuzz-free album of clean lines, smooth synths and polished edges.
Since all of those charming glitches on their first album were dutifully removed by mixmaster Erol Alkan, Couples won’t have the same lip-stained fans pulling on their bri-nylon sweaters and pencil skirts and heading to the dance floor. But its darker, brooding electro, like the mesmerizing distortion-filled Round The Hairpin, represents a newer, grown-up force for the Sheffielders that’s even more seductive than lip gloss and vintage heels.
The Long Blondes play Lee’s Palace May 22.