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Review: The Brixton Academy’s L.O.T. EP

The late-2010 L.O.T. EP find The Brixton Academy frequenting the same nightclubs they did on Vivid, but this time they mean business. Back on that album, the group ordered a drink and then posted up in the back alone, thinking about having a good time rather than actually having a good time. Fast forward a few months forward and now TBA strut into the club, take up shop in the center of the room and straight-up entertain people with all that awkwardness. Before they probably wore ill-fitting striped button-ups. Now they’ve got suits on.

Which is all analogy to say – same Brixton Academy, just a little more accessible. They’re still borrowing sounds and moves from 80s new wave, and the singing still sounds kinda goofy but charming, still focused on longing and nights out and wanting to be a suaver dude. L.O.T. isn’t a massive departure, but this trio of barely-there songs sound intent on showcasing the band’s songwriting skills. TBA carry themselves like legitimate hit makers over these 11 minutes, eschewing the fits of overwhelming emotion found all over Vivid.

Those passionate whims, though, are what made Vivid one of 2010’s best albums. Sonically, any of L.O.T.’s three tracks could slide into the Vivid tracklisting and disrupt nothing. Yet nothing on this EP comes close to matching the earnestness of the songs on that full-length, let alone nearing the moments of intense release like on “Lovely Lies, Little Signs” or “In My Arms.” Lead track “Catch It!” explores the same themes as Vivid’s best track “So Shy” – romantic yearning mixed with a want for self improvement, the lines here about “if I was self-assured/no more running away” echoing the same sentiments of the wish for “I need more courage.” “So Shy” gave itself over completely to these feelings though, sounding like a constant build-up that ended in intriguing vagueness. “Catch It!” is a pop song, verses and chorus clearly defined with a set finish.

And hey, don’t get me wrong…it’s a hell of a catchy song. If TBA hope to nab any international press, the sparkly synths and multi-tracked vocals making up the chorus of “Catch It!” seem there best chance. “Friday Knight” isn’t as immediately wowing, but rather a highlight clip of the band’s songwriting skills using their very specific style. It’s a track patching disparate segments together via a simple, commanding beat that tops it all off with a synth solo. It’s an amazingly well put-together song and it’s not just resume padding – it sounds great. What’s lacking on “Friday Knight” and “Catch It!,” however, is the emotional urgency that made Vivid this blog’s number three album of 2010. Closer “Shameful Man” comes closest to replicating that rush, a flurry of Reese’s Pieces synths leading to a breathless sprint of a song. The vocals stand out on “Shameful Man,” forced out of their comfort zone by the hurried pace of the track, making self-loathing lines sting much more painfully.

The only crime L.O.T. committed was coming out the same year The Brixton Academy dropped Vivid, because these three songs are great slices of 80s-inspired pop. They might even be small steps forward for the band, a group tightening up a bit in a quest for more listeners. It’s a solid stopgap of a release and nice to see TBA getting a little more professional. But if you fell in love with awkward wallflowers, L.O.T. feels a little different.