Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? CD
Format*
CD  $10.00
Digital download  $8.00

Lovejoy - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? CD

matcd018   /   August 2002
 #lovejoy
  1. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
  2. You Fell From Grace
  3. Plastic Flowers
  4. Nothing Happens Here
  5. Snow Falling Softly (Bent Fabric mix)
  6. The Beat Hotel
  7. Night On Earth
  8. Millionaire... Maybe
  9. Don't You (Wish You'd Never Met Me)?

Superb second album from English hitmakers includes nine songs that further demonstrate the innovation and creativity flowing from Lovejoy headquarters. The album bends the Lovejoy template ever so slightly to encompass a bit more electronica (think New Order or the Wake) and even a song that will make you get up and dance like you just don't care. The album also features a new version of the Biff Bang Pow! classic "The Beat Hotel" with drums and electric guitars and other sparkly magic only possible in Lovejoy studios. A polished mix of guitars, keyboards, percussion and excellent harmonies, this is quite possibly the band's strongest release to date and perfect for fans of Blueboy, Revolving Paint Dream, or House of Love.

 
reviews
like the smiths before them, lovejoy interweave social commentary (here 21st century media-saturated materialistic consumption-obsessed britain) with such everyman emotions as heartbreak, frustration and loneliness, in this case resulting in a mesmerising and magical, simultaneously depressing and uplifitng second album. quintessentially english, lushly arranged and warming electro-pop introspection that effortlessly generates a dreamlike otherwordly ambience from the soothing opening title track's iridescent guitars right through to the delicately tinkling closer 'don't you (wish you'd never met me)?'. melodies melancholically slow-burn, silken yet steadily-paced vocals float and soothe their way around the commonly downbeat lyrics - for example, 'you fell from grace' is about a relationship breakdown caused by outside influences yet is delivered by frontman dick preece and co with such beautiful strummed elegance that you're unsure whether you sigh under a broken hearted burden or with satisfied contentment. elsewhere on the tale of suburban banality 'nothing happens here' we are told "don't waste your dreams on real life/it will end in tears/our dreams will disappear/the weeks grow into years/you will come to see/that there's no happy endings here" but at odds with these lyrics is an arrangement that recalls the upbeat optimistic (almost colourful) style of technique era new order with sharp drum machine beats and swish synthwork, two characteristics typical of the lovejoy sound akin to blueboy (no coincidence as keith girdler and paul stewart are present here) or a very restrained pet shop boys. preece gets almost shoegazery on the impeccable house of love-esque strummer 'night on earth' as he poses that "there must be much more to life than this". by the conclusion while leaving you emotionally unsure - smile? cry? both? - there will be no doubt that 'who wants to be a millionaire?' is a damn fine record and come winter could become the perfect soundtrack to a morning skive when for a few moments the modern world, money, television, fashion, greed etc are all locked outside, and nothing else matters other than yourself duvet wrapped and this blissful record drifting from your stereo.   --Taste Music
A record inspired by frontman Richard Preece's contempt for the pop culture phenomenon of looking to television to make our lives better, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? takes aim at the program of the same name, as well as lotteries, makeovers and all similar broadcasts full of equally empty promises of happiness that can be purchased or won. Hailing from Brighton, England, Lovejoy craft songs that linger lovingly on the ethereal notes often associated with shoegaze one moment, and channel bits of Richard Butler's straightforward pop genius the next. Morsels of lo-fi electronic elements are mixed in as well, most notably on “Snow Falling Softly (Bent Fabric Mix)". While the swirling layers of guitars and watery vocals of a track like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?," prove a strong and compelling slice of shogaze-peppered splendor, it is with the more frank acoustic guitar driven numbers that Lovejoy really shines. Perhaps the album's finest track, “The Beat Hotel" (a cover of a song by Biff Bang Pow!, a group led by Creation Records head Alan McGee) is built on an acoustic foundation and is made magnificent by the gorgeous interplay of vocals between Preece and backing vocalist Ally Board. The sparkling contrast of Preece's soft-spoken, almost monotone vocals and Board's wispy delivery is perfect throughout the record. “Night On Earth" is a bit darker in tone, but works equally well, offering up glimpses of groups like Echo and the Bunnymen and the Church in the process. The title track gets the remix treatment by the Snowdrops and the Sheriff in the form of “Millionaire…Maybe," which finds the track constructed of fragmented lyrics posing the looming question “Who wants to be a millionaire?" interspersed with a track of a small child saying “I don't want to be a millionaire." However, as the song closes, a man asks the child this question again, and the answer is “yes, please." Perhaps all of this is a bit of artsy cynicism on Lovejoy's part, but it's an interesting, often gripping concept nonetheless. The album wraps up with “Don't You (Wish You'd Never Met Me)?," which, much as the title implies, is a slice of melancholia with an achingly sad refrain worthy of Morrissey himself. Overall, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? is a strong collection wistful indie pop, likely to go over well with fans of the Creation Records scene, as well as groups like the Screen Prints, Lucksmiths, the Green Pajamas and those who can't get enough of the sweet boy-girl vocal interplay that rose to prominence in the underground in the early ‘90s.   --All Music Guide
The initial shock listening to the title track on Lovejoy's new full length release, Who Want to be a Millionaire? is how utterly moving it is hearing such a well-known and overused phrase repeated over and over against a back drop of haunting guitar-fuelled electronica. It's especially stirring considering the images that instantly pop to mind along with those words, and how Lovejoy manage to dissolve those images with a soothing, lush melody. It's a rare achievement, and one indicative of Lovejoy's evolving talent. The British popsters who made a name for themselves with the blissful Songs in the Key of Lovejoy three years ago, have created for themselves here a timeless work, decidedly simple, with songs exploring a variety of contemporary themes from individual greed and society's sanctioning of it, to the middle-class worries of the everyman, and what it means to love and be loved. Lovejoy's music is not pop, it's not rock, it's not dance and it's not jazz, though elements of these styles can be found scattered throughout Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. "Nothing Happens Here", for example, threatens to rock out giving only hints of something harder with it's ripping guitar work before pulling back to a kind of be-bop-pop-style. "Snow Falling Softly" similarly threatens the big bang with an introduction featuring a hard and steady drumbeat but, instead, moves ever so slowly into a gripping, melodic symphony of guitars, drums and keys repeating the same chorus over and over to mesmerizing effect. Lovejoy excel, however, when concentrating on one style, usually electronic pop. The album's best material comes in the purely pop efforts, such as "Night on Earth" and Biff Bang Pow! tune, "The Beat Hotel" with singer, Dick, often channeling Morrissey and The Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler. These songs (including, also, "Plastic Flowers" and "You Fell From Grace") are sharply rendered, each containing loads of beautiful, calming images -- worn out wedding clothes, disco etiquette, Autumn photography, sea spray -- throughout stories of exile, frustration and loneliness. The band's tendency to lean towards the depressive is also reminiscent of the The Smiths, though they're (thankfully) not quite as blatantly gloomy. Instead, Lovejoy present lyrics like "Don't waste your dreams on real life / It will end in tears / Our dreams will disappear / The weeks grow into years / You will come to see / That there's no happy endings here" (on "Nothing Happens Here") against a decidedly upbeat backdrop of rolling guitars and heavy percussion, so that you're not entirely sure if perhaps this depression is something to be celebrated. This happens again and again on Millionaire, with all vocals remaining at a steady pace adding contentment to the despair. "There must be much more to life than this," Dick sings on "Night on Earth" in the same fixed monotone as "The sun will shine here anyway . . . It's maybe time to start again" on "You Fell From Grace". It's an intriguing juxtaposition, and while at times overbearing in its predictability, ultimately adds to the album's sense of calm. Meditative and relaxed, exploring a greater range of emotion and exposing a new vulnerability, Who Wants to be a Millionaire is an exciting and worthy successor to Lovejoy's debut.   --Pop Matters
Lovejoy seem to be Searching For The Young Soul Rebels. Lovejoy would love to be Dexy's Midnight Runners. Not that they want to sound like Dexy's of course - they have sense enough to know that just trying to ape someone's sound is not enough, is indeed to miss the point - it's just that they clearly aspire to the same kind of essence, or feeling. Lovejoy would like to inspire. Lovejoy would like to make us stop and Think! (sorry, that was a Jasmine Minks reference, which I know you all got, and which I know you all recognise as being as close to Dexy's as most people will ever manage). So for their Who Wants To Be A Millionaire album, instead of coming on with a brass section made in heaven or songs full of awesome soul, love and passionate hate, Lovejoy instead play the artwork card and give us a sleeve that pays homage to the peerless Dexy's debut, whilst on disc retaining their own more restrained take on techno/acoustic/electric-punk. So whilst this is never going to approach the heights scaled by the Rowland/Archer troupe (and let's face it, what is?), Lovejoy nevertheless offer us up a plate with some delectable treats. There's the opener 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' with it's early '90s beats and shimmering guitars; there's 'Plastic Flowers' that opens up with a drum-machine sound that makes you think of the early Looper records and then drenches the whole shebang with layers of guitar noise and the song title chanted as a kind of incantation to who the hell knows what. There's 'Snow Falling Softly' with it's rhythms sounding just like the title suggests, synth wash covering the land like the frosts of morning and a delicate guitar line picking out the sunlight shifting behind the red leaves of the tree next door. And just before you think it's only the techno-inflected numbers that are of interest, there's the gorgeous album closing 'Don't You (Wish You'd Never Met Me)' that shivers under the glow of Felt's pale light and of course there's the delectable cover of Biff Bang Pow's monumentally wondrous 'The Beat Hotel'. Guaranteed to make your heart bleed.   --Tangent
See elsewhere in this issue for the frankly commendable Lovejoy ethos, and then buy this perfect little album to hear the sound behind it all. Basically a concept album, 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' deals with the frustrations of modern life and the gradual take over of human emotions by THE SYSTEM! And therefore we do not simply get a crude Chumbawamba style rant for 40 minutes. No here Lovejoy deal with how this frustration and alienation can affect other parts of our lives. Least I think that's what it's all about... And so we get 'You Fell From Grace', a song about the break up of a relationship from outside pressures. And which, is to be honest, a real weepy. I mean a proper one. And on towards 'Nothing Happens Here', a huge big guitar romp, full of peaks and troughs, which reminds this listener of 'Technique' era New Order, and a paean about small seaside town living, and the longing for escape. It could be about Brighton, it could be about anywhere. The thing is, that it's here. And it's wonderful. Lovejoy throw in a reworking of their tribute to Biff Bang Pow!, with a cover of 'The Beat Hotel', which is just so tender and heartfelt, that it could melt a steel heart. And that's possibly the beauty of this album. The issues it covers are of intense frustration. Yet its soundtrack is made up of the lushest, most precious pop music. Not many people can do this. The Smiths again come to mind as a band who mixed that sense of frustration with some sparklingly handsome music, but with your average band, you can only have it one way. Lovejoy make sure they give you the whole package. An absolute joy.   --Tasty
Me, actually, but that's another issue. The issue at hand is pop--literate, fun, pleasant little pleasures for the ears. Lovejoy's got that in spades, and they're giving it away on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, if you bother to listen. And why should you bother? Because in this complicated, capitalistic world we live in, simple pleasures such as simple electro-pop just simply do not come around much any more. For the most part, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? doesn't really stray from the tried and true British indie-pop formula, and that's just fine in my book. With a bit more synth than most indie-pop bands, Lovejoy doesn't sound like every other Bob Wratten project, and that's also a plus in my book. Quiet, acoustic moments tempered with synths and literate words and breathy and occasionally off-kilter vocals and a tinge of sadness sum up Lovejoy quite nicely. I like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It's not too terribly sad, nor is it terribly generic-sounding indiepop. I really fell for "Don't You (Wish You'd Never Met Me?)," the sad ballad album closer, because sometimes it's nice to have a weeper. Inside the cover, there's a little rant about capitalism, escapist game-shows on television, and society in general. Between that and the cover art that looks like a scene from Quadrophenia, I start to wonder if this is an indiepop concept album about capitalism? I couldn't really tell from the lyrics, though. I have a feeling, though, that Lovejoy would like nothing better than to give you a little bit of an alternative to all the dreck on the radio, and for that, they are to be commended. While they may not make you a millionaire, Lovejoy will enrich your day with their lovely pop stylings.   --Mundane Sounds