On their debut album Boston five-piece, Logan 5 and The Runners (David Berndt – vox, guitar, Chris Barrett -keyboards, trumpet, Marc Beaulieu -drums, Mike DeLisile -bass and Nick Balkin -guitar), have managed to convey a retro, Velvet Goldmine-esque swagger mixed with the fresh exuberance and sleaze of the more glam aspects of Brit pop; at once channelling the witty sarcasm of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and the softer, melodramatic facets of Bowie.
For example, opening track “Girl of the Internet” opens with the drone of synths and the low rumbling of a beautifully simplistic, catchy bass line. Berndt’s vocals on the early verses here perfectly display that laconic, bored drawl exemplified by Cocker, and these verses progress with an increasing glam-rock strut towards an outstanding chorus with an anthemic Brit-poppy chord progression that is instantly memorable. The crashing guitar chords that start dropping in around the two minute mark almost serve to demarcate the retro chic of the opening from the rest, which sparkles with a vibrant modernity, bringing the sound firmly into this century.
“Subtitles” displays a more laid-back, bluesy Bowie or Eno-era Roxie Music feel, with a suitably funky bass line. The vocals, and in fact the song as a whole, display the kind of theatricality one expects of Bowie (particularly in the Ziggy Stardust era), with bells chiming in the background betraying the melancholy lyrical content to come, which is delivered with dramatic flair by Berndt who drawls over the top of a shimmering guitar line, ‘She is dead!’ The end of the song is marked by a drum and bass pattern reminiscent of a heart-beat slowing down and then fading into nothing at the end.
“Driveway” opens with a high hat heavy, disco-inspired drum pattern with swirling synths creating the backdrop. This drops down in the mix to make-way for lascivious vocals, very reminiscent for me personally of UK glam-punk noisemakers Pink Grease. However, the song quickly leaves behind its grimy Brit-pop edge and shows its true pop sensibilities, particularly in the sparkly, Summery chorus which talks of finding ‘someway to get out of here tonight’. Again, this is a song of two distinct parts, and two distinct moods; the pricklier, dance-y verse section, representing I guess a more modern edge with its party beats and reverb and then there’s the saccharine sweetness of the chorus. It can be difficult to meld such different influences and styles, but the band do it very well.
Album closer, “Supernova”, is a mellow, almost folky tribute to the end of the world,”when all the stars go supernova”. There’s some nice vintage sounding keyboard sounds heralding the start of, and continuing throughout, the second verse and after it a bittersweet, lilting guitar solo with synths hovering just behind creating the sound, supposedly, of the world ending in a rush of gentle static. What a nice way to go!