Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.
The breezy arrangements on Life Is Sweet, the second effort from U.K. trio The Lodger are as misleading as the CD’s optimistic title. Lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboards player Ben Siddall writes songs about unhappy people itching to find more satisfying relationships, as when he sings, “It is a hopeless and pointless charade” on “A Hero’s Welcome.” This melancholy with melody approach earned The Smiths a cult following, and The Lodger does pretty well with it here.
The catchy “My Finest Hour” and “Honey” have an engaging 1980s ambience that evokes not only Morrissey, but Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout. Bassist Joe Margetts adds funk to the shimmering pop of “The Good Old Days.” The Lodger (drummer Bruce Renshaw rounds out the trio) offers a change of pace with “Famous Last Words,” a slow song about missed opportunities, and rocks out with the energetic “The Conversation” and “A Year Since Last Summer.”