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Track-by-Track: Lover Lover – There Is a Place

Since its release at the tail-end of last year, Lover Lover‘s debut album, There Is a Place, has always felt like a record ripe for deciphering. Whether it’s in the series of mysterious glyphs that encircle the lettering on the LP’s cover, or the rich narrative of love, exploration and journeying that flows throughout, lending it a lavish slathering of romance that only adds to its intrigue. 

What shines through most of all though is the character of Eleanor Bodenham – the vocalist at the group’s core – who across its ten tracks succeeds in making you wholeheartedly believe every dream pop-coated syllable; from the wide-eyed adolescence of opener ‘All Through the Night’ through to the sanctuary found by the album’s final bow, ‘Home’.

With the record having sat on our stereos for the best part of two months now, we in turn sat down with Bodenham to walk through There Is a Place’s peaks and troughs – both emotional and musical – and to find out just where that journey took her.

All Through the Night

“This is the opening credits song; the first journey in a series of journeys. With it being the beginning, it is less mature and more adolescent than some of the other tracks on the album. It’s a story of two young people joining together to free themselves from bad situations. This seems like the start of a film, to me, and reminds me of the fable of the Willow Pattern – the story represented by the illustration on those blue plates that everyone has – which I think about every time I sing it.”

Young Free

“One of the earlier ones we recorded. It seems like the partner song to ‘All Through the Night’ and has all the same references and sentiments, though it is less wistful and more desperate. The lyrics were unfinished when we came round to recording it and Martin and I took a break and went to a bar round the corner from Andy Strange’s studio in Seven Sisters. We drank some wine, got pretty pissed and threw down the lyrics, then went back to the studio and recorded it. As I remember, Andy – the engineer – got fairly riled with us because we were dancing round the microphone while I was singing and it was producing bad noises. Martin didn’t like the lyrics and wanted to re-record but Nick and I refused because it sounded right and loose.”

Embers

“I had been away for a couple of weeks in northern Spain walking in the mountains on my own. I was fed up, for various reasons, and had needed to get away and switch my phone off. I think Martin and Nick were annoyed with me for going awol.

While I was away they had been working in the studio in London where we had all been living together. When I got back, they gave me this rough instrumental that I didn’t immediately like, though I didn’t say so. Over the next few days we tried and recorded about five different top lines but none of them stuck.

Eventually, I persuaded Martin to leave it alone and come with me out of town. While we were away we wrote this; which really sums up what was going on at that time. I was sick of the city; nightbuses, noise, things not working out – all that stuff that happens to everyone -and desperately needed to get away. This is written as ‘we’ but, really, it’s a firm ‘I’ or ‘you’. It’s saying: things can be different; there are other places, other possibilities; we don’t have to stay still or be stuck, the world is beautiful and huge and it can be different from what it is now. ‘Embers’ was the last track that we recorded. We left that house in the next couple of months and all moved, separately, to different places in the world. I think that song signalled the start of a new journey and the end of other things.”

Freebirds

“This is the first song we recorded. I had just moved back to London from Paris. Martin called me at about 11 one night and told me to get in a cab and come to a studio in south London called The Pool where he had been working with Nick; recording a Romany Gypsy orchestra for the circus. I didn’t think too much of it, though I wasn’t sure if I was going to a session or a party, and made my way down there, half asleep and suspending thought. We spent that night recording the first demo of ‘Freebirds’. It’s pretty obvious what this one’s about; and it’s a feeling that I have felt, profoundly, at various points in my life and pertaining to many different people; not just in the romantic sense.”

Hush

“This song was written (with Martin and Nick) by Ashley Huizenga (aka Actually); a singer from LA with whom Martin and Nick were working before me. We came to it later on and I felt pretty weird about recording it and disconnected from the lyrics which I couldn’t really relate to. We changed a few lines here and there: ie “Hush, don’t blush” became “Hush; don’t rush” for obvious reasons; namely that I can’t imagine telling someone to stop blushing, whereas being slow is always good. There are a few lines in there that I hate singing and can’t listen to. Though I like the song, it is the one I feel I have no investment in and I can’t really comment on what it is about. It’s Ashley’s song. She will tell you.

When I do sing it, I always think of the final scene in Fight Club where they’re standing together with buildings exploding all around them and the Pixies starts up.”

Lakeshore Line

“This was inspired by a train journey that Martin took from Chicago to New York after he had spent a few months living in Chicago while working on another record at Steve Albini’s studio.  It’sanother one that’s about travel; (the whole album is composed of stories about journeys) about surrendering yourself to movement – perhaps running away from a feeling of having fucked things up in the place you’ve come from or simply just not knowing what else you can do except keep moving. It is also a love song for New York.”

I and the City

“This is about going on your own to a city that you don’t know – that doesn’t know you and is indifferent to you – and trying to make a life by yourself. It’s about the things that you see and feel when you are completely alone in a place that is swarming with life. I have moved like this a few times and each time I haven’t been entirely sure why I have done it; just that I have felt that I needed to. I suppose the lyrics are about loneliness as much as simply being alone but the melody (and the sounds that come through that noise of the crowd towards the end) should speak of strength, independence, the freedom of anonymity and the power of being together with a place: ‘I and the City’.”

The Fire

“This was originally sung by Martin. It is about squandering talent and integrity for the sake of money and fame. It’s about giving something to someone based on a belief in that person, only for that person to throw it away – and in so doing put out their own fire – simply because they didn’t know any better.”

Love on a Wire

“This was another instrumental that Martin and Nick made while I was in Spain. Again, we had real trouble with it and wrote about four top lines that didn’t sit. Then we wrote this. It feels like the perfect penultimate song on an album, for me, followed by ‘Home’. It’s about the time at the end of something when you know you have to leave but you can’t. It’s about the confusion and frustration of trying and failing. Ending up in a series of cul-de-sacs. The line “How did I end up a passenger, I always thought I had control?” kind of runs contrary to the philosophy of the rest of the album which speaks of starting journeys, surrendering yourself to movement and travel. This is the moment when all of that implodes and you find yourself at the bottom of a hole that you didn’t look down for long enough to notice.”

Home

“This follows ‘Love on a Wire’, with the echo – literal and figurative – of being at the bottom of a hole. For me, this song is at the centre of all of it; of all the movement, travel and surrender that happens in the rest of the album. The album is ultimately about a quest for a ‘Home’, even when it is at its most rootless and unattached. That ‘Home’ is found at various points: in trains, in cars, in foreign cities, in the feeling of simply being alone and alive, in making friends out of strangers and, sometimes, briefly, in the arms of other people. But because none of this lasts, we keep moving and finding it again and again. This song is a reflection – albeit a muddled one – of things that have happened that have made it hard to settle. In ‘Home’ we are, finally, still.”

- Alex Cull

There Is a Place is available now on Cross Keys Records. You can buy it here.



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