Hype's a bastard sometimes – you can never live up to it. Pretty much everything we've ever looked forward to has disappointed us; Be Here Now, The Phantom Menace, any international football competition that England takes part in.
A year ago we were sent a painfully hip compilation album that sounded as if it was entirely created by a squad of self-regarding Nathan Barleys who somehow managed to turn on the 'electroclash' preset button on their Bontempi synthesisers despite their heads being firmly lodged up their arseholes – except one song; Giddy Stratospheres by The Long Blondes. Since then we've been anticipating the debut album by The Long Blondes with a sort of terrified excitement; obviously we wanted to hear more but surely – surely – they wouldn't be able to live up to the hype or be able to reach the same heights as Giddy Stratospheres. Well, Someone To Drive You Home – the long-awaited album by The Long Blondes is out on Monday and it's full of songs that blow Giddy Stratospheres clean out of the water. Excited yet?
This is what you probably already know about The Long Blondes: they're from Sheffield, they're mostly female and they won the NME Philip Hall Radar Award, just like those happy chubbers Kaiser Chiefs did. That award was also won by Franz Ferdinand a few years ago, and in many ways they're a good starting point for a discussion of The Long Blondes. The Long Blondes have obviously put as much thought into their appearance as Franz Ferdinand, and they have the same appreciation for making listening to their music seem like an event.
It's all there; the glamour, the drama, the wit, the cultural references – Someone To Drive You Home opener Lust In The Movies goes "Edie Sedgewick! Anna Karina! Arlene Dahl!" which, as far as setting your stall out early on goes ain't bad – and the slyly self-referential cockiness that only the greatest bands can pull off without looking like dicks. The Long Blondes have even split Someone To Drive You Home into an A and a B side, for the love of all that's holy, so it's just as well they've got the tunes to back all of this up.
If you have ears you'll have no doubt heard Once And Never Again – the first Long Blondes single from Someone To Drive You Home – already, with it's "You're only 19 for God's sake/ You don't need a boyfriend" chorus. If it's the first you've heard of The Long Blondes, it's a bit of a curveball – it sounds more or less exactly the same as The Libertines, although a bit more stylish and far more catchy than that band ever was. The flipside to all this fun comes at the end of 'side A' of Someone To Drive You Home during Heaven Help The New Girl, a campily dramatic break-up song that sees singer Kate Jackson imploring "Just go because you'll never be 19 again/ And I thought I told you before you don't need a boyfriend." It's a moment that's funny, touching and clever as a box of foxes all at once, and that's not something you can say about Jet.
Someone To Drive You Home by The Long Blondes is an album rooted in Sheffield, and filled with the seedy glamour of all the city's greatest bands like Pulp and ABC and The Human League. Keeping with one of the most famous Sheffield album traditions, Someone To Drive You Home also features a heart-stopping boy/girl spoken word interlude in one of its songs – You Could Have Both – that references The Apartment, Scott Walker and the title of their own album.
Given the chance we could froth and rail and preach about every single track on Someone To Drive You Home by The Long Blondes – it's an album that follows in the footsteps of every great iconic literate British pop album you can think of, planting itself firmly in a lineage that includes The Kinks, The Jam, The Specials, Pulp and any other band you've wanted to clutch to your heart because they sound like they're talking directly to you. For once, Someone To Drive You Home by The Long Blondes is an album that effortlessly, gloriously, lives up to the hype.
And as for Giddy Stratospheres? They re-recorded it. We don't like it as much now.