While Tullycraft did prod the boundaries a little with Disenchanted Hearts Unite, which administered light doses of synth-pop and electro, Lost In Light Rotation finds the band instead attempting to hone their craft to perfection. That they do. These are very well-made pop songs from an assiduous songwriter, and some of them, like the rushing title track, or the closer, 'Anacorters', are practically flawless. There’re impeccable lead riffs, rousing climaxes, and then the vocals: the harmonies between Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears are wonderfully balanced, deployed generously and with confidence. Their interplay is crucial to the album’s success. For example, when Mears takes the lead vocal for the second verse of highlight ‘Elks Lodge Riot’, it’s just lovely, and when she and Tollefson are reunited for the chorus, it makes the song.
Some of the ‘seen-it-all’ scenester themes are nagging, like the mention of "fake DIY traps", references to homemade t-shirts, and the plot of ‘No Tic All Tac’ (it’s about some forgotten band who "never played a single show outside of Glasgow Green"). But in general, the reflections are quietly affecting. "A polished slogan reads that punk love is finally lost," Tollefson sings on ‘Westchester Turnabouts’, while his being "stuck on the day you left – t-t-too much to say" is first-world tragic. ‘Dig Up The Graves’ faces the fact of not being trouble-free kids anymore: ’A dozen things that you never told me…the days, the weeks, the months, they follow you home’. Despite the bright shiny pop-sheen, much of Lost In Light Rotation is sad and regretful, made all the more poignant by the idea that indiepop’s glory days are past.
While wars, economic crashes, and the Decline of Everything have eaten away at the chirpy optimism that prevailed when they began in the Nineties, Tullycraft remain stubbornly, happily oblivious. Their latest record is a time capsule, a tiny fragment of utopia to be treasured in these ghastly End Times, and when homo sapiens’ automated, inorganic descendants dig through the debris of our era in 10,000 years, maybe they’ll stumble upon Lost In Light Rotation and see that there was one last bastion of hope and sweetness in this, the foul year of our Lord, 2013.
Like so many of the fanzines and club nights associated with indiepop, Lost In Light Rotation is wonderfully light humoured, taking good natured swipes at itself. References to twee-pop clichés – band t-shirts, girls with bangs, 7″ records – are packed in, as are nods to the bands at its core… most noticeably Bis’s 1996 single This Is Fake DIY (a band who, in an act of satisfying symmetry, not only released their first singles just before Tullycraft, but are set to reform to play at this year’s Indietracks festival).
The album’s title track is a song for a thousand moods; it studies heartbreak, the fleeting popstar, and fake DIY bands and fans. It’s an anthem of solidarity; a battle cry to indie kids to protect what they hold dearly. Similarly, Queen Co sees frontman Sean Tollefson sing: “I love my music and I’m tired of my fake friends.” His sneering, nasal vocals and drawn-out delivery are one of the most replicated ingredients of Tullycraft’s sound, and they are put to best use when harmonising with Jenny Mears, a relative latecomer who joined the band for 2005’s Disenchanted Hearts Unite.
From Wichita With Love is perhaps the album’s best ambassador – a call and response song that fuses ’60s girl groups (as Mears’ “He asked me if I wanted to dance with you” is met with “Do you wanna dance?”) with crunching, jangly guitars and lo-fi production that, if roughed up a little more, would be at home on a Milky Wimpshake album.
Elsewhere the album runs the gauntlet of emotions but always with an upbeat optimism. It’s charming without grating, cheerful without being too glossy. They’ve proved that time and hindsight can both be good things if used in the right way. After nearly two decades, Tullycraft may have just produced their best album yet.