When Big Deal arrived in 2011 with their debut album Lights Out, a number of media growing-pains had to be passed for this good looking boy-girl singer-songwriter duo; how can the market endure yet another of these outfits? Are they the next Ting Tings? Is this another case of style over substance? More importantly, are they sleeping with each other? With second effort June Gloom, Californian Kacey Underwood and Londoner Alice Costelloe reaffirm what they proved in Lights Out and deliver on their grunge-hued, romantic melancholy while making sure they don’t do the same trick twice.
And no, they’re not sleeping together.
In a recent interview Costelloe mentioned that the choice of heavy-rock number ‘Terodactol’ as the first single was deliberately throwing a curveball to what people expected of them. Indeed opener ‘Golden Light’ seems to deliberately lull you into expecting more of the same, before launching their addition of bass and drums half way through. Put down your Camomile tea, this is going to get loud.
While the introduction of a rhythm section would be enough of a change for the group, the first half of the album also displays their exploration into other arenas, such as the reverb heavy guitars of ‘Dream Machines’ giving an almost electro feel and the indie-pop keyboard-sounding riff of ‘In Your Car’. Meanwhile the lyrics maintain their adolescent theme, now ranging from their traditional mix of futile teenage desire (“Driving in your car/I want to be wherever you are/Sleep in the back seat/There’s nothing more that I’ll ever be”) to Kacey’s lead vocals on Pristine and Nirvana-like ‘Pillow’ give a mature (he having a decade on the younger Costelloe) angle on desire.
There’s no doubt of their talent, and they have done themselves a massive favour by not letting themselves get pigeonholed by growing their sonic palette, if not particularly in the scope of the lyrics. The album may also struggle to engage when it nears the end, with ‘Close Your Eyes’ again using the band halfway through snap you awake. Nonetheless, this is a group that knew to build on itself to live up to its potential. Perhaps one trick worth repeating.