Conceptual pop for grownups! Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes' latest opus takes a rueful look at the corrupting nature of ambition.
The Lancashire Hustlers are a pair of northern émigrés, now resident in London. They've recently released What Made Him Run, the second in their proposed trilogy of 'pop operas'. Over the course of the album's richly arranged ten tracks we're told the story of one man's life. It's a tale of the corrupting effect of ambition, ruthlessness,and towards the end, the sad nature of regret. Almost like a mash-up of The Beatles' She's Leaving Home with The Wolf Of Wall Street. The album's protagonist is obviously in some sort of mid-life crisis, his tale told via some well-crafted, grown-up literary pop.
Taken as a whole it's a rewarding experience, but each individual track stands up well. Not least in part to the pairs' innate understanding of each others singing and playing. The are echoes of other great collaborative duos throughout, most obviously Difford and Tilbrook, Tim and Neil Finn and Lennon and McCartney. It also reminded me of the kind of song suite Ray Davies might have made during the 1970s as the soundtrack for a made for TV special. Factor in some some Everly Brothers' harmonies and some pre-fame Bowie folk-rock and you have a winning sound right there. But it's the meticulously crafted songs and cinematic sweep of story that impress the most.
The Lancashire Hustlers play The Stage Door, Waterloo, London on September 12th.
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