Lucy Rose - Like I Used To
When writing Like I Used To, Lucy Rose must have felt the weight of the world upon her slight, young shoulders. At just twenty three years old, this musician has sold out a string of shows, earned herself a huge and dedicated fan base and has even been signed to Atlantic Records - pretty impressive for an artist yet to release her debut album.
So what has led her to this remarkable point? At 18-years-old, Rose, consumed by a desire for discovery and armed with a £50 guitar, jumped aboard a train to London to pursue her musical ambitions. Playing every basement gig and open mic night available, it was in these formative years in which she honed her skills and laid the groundwork for the talent which would later emerge. By 2010 the basements were bigger and the crowds more receptive; and this period culminated in her considerable (and beautiful) contributions to the Bombay Bicycle Club album Flaws, which brought her voice to the indie scene at large. Not one to give up on the DIY ethos with which she conducted her early career though, Rose recorded this album herself, splitting recording between her parents basement and the local village hall - to astonishing results.
Like I Used To begins with the driving up-tempo percussion of Rose's lead single 'Red Face', which swiftly changes pace between a mellow stroll and a thunder of drums. This opener is somewhat a microcosm of the entire record; twisting, turning and constantly changing pace. You'd be excused in at thinking that at times this is a whole band record, rather than the mellow acoustic Lucy Rose which we are familiar. 'Middle of the Bed' and 'Lines' display Rose's gift for writing gorgeous and catchy pop songs without dumbing down to the audience. There is a common opinion held by a worrying number of the world's population that pop music must be simplistic, vacuous ramblings created purely to fill an Oceana dance floor (see exhibit A); however, this album shows us that pop music can be as beautiful, well-written and evocative as any other genre.
The album slows for the gorgeous folk ballad 'Shiver', which is arguably the album's highlight. This is Lucy Rose 101: swooning melodies, acoustic guitar, heartbreak - it reminds you of exactly why you fell in love with her in the first place. She is blessed with a sincere gift for being able to put across such emotion in her vocals, a talent she displays in this in this song which it rife with vulnerability and exposure.
It's difficult to know whether it's the high of the previous track which exacerbates the situation, but 'Night Bus' is a lazy effort by comparison. The verse drags out feeling bland and uninspired in stark contrast to its predecessors. Luckily the downward slide in quality doesn’t last long, as the off-beat kilter of 'Watch Over' blends xx-esque groves with heavy riffs that wouldn't feel out of place on a Manchester Orchestra album. Going from strength to strength, Rose's latest single, 'Bikes', represents one of the album's catchiest tracks. Slowly building throughout the verse, the track peaks to a crescendo marked with soaring vocals as well as the glittering of xylophone. Regrettably the two tracks that follow ('Place' and 'Don’t You Worry') suffer from an unfortunate affliction. In both cases the verses feel a little under constructed - like they were a work in progress until she could write something which lived up to the potential of their vastly stronger choruses. Luckily such is the strength of the choruses that it carries us through what could have been a potentially weak portion of the record.
The album ends with a duo of acoustic tracks ('First' and 'Be Alright'); stripping away some of the musical noise and allowing the focus to re-align itself in its rightful place, around the vocals. With the latter being a track of real quality, we are ensured a strong end to the album. It is here on the anthemic choruses of the album's final track that Rose's vocals take a new twist; developing an imposing and confident tone as she bellows out the prominent lyric "and you said to me, you said we'd be alright..... and we'll be alright."
Although Like I Used To is perhaps not the faultless debut which some were expecting, it still represents an incredibly strong debut album for the young artist. It's been a long road to this point, however, the fruits of these struggles are far from just inconveniences, as they are steeped into every fibre of this album. With major label backing, a dedicated fan base and the difficult first album behind her, the road ahead for Lucy Rose looks to stretch unto the horizon.