Is it just a coincidence that in its week of release Britain has shaken defrosting icicles from its brow, thrown off its duffel coat and tried to leapfrog over spring straight into summer? Well of course it is, but it don’t half feel right having Ambulance Ltd’s debut massaging our ears as the first decent sunshine of the year cascades generously through the window and carefree souls (well, students) sprawl decadently on the patch of grass opposite. It’s a beautiful thing. That’s nature we’re referring to, but ‘Ambulance Ltd’ does indeed deserve similar praise itself. And if the acronym NYC represents a haggard cliché for you, here’s a band that call it a home, a place to lay their head, rather than a pre-determined attitude, career option or style magazine calling card. Their heart is certainly made of more nomadic stuff.
This may have the discipline of the city, its pace having rubbed off on their demeanor – nothing slumps here, or so much as kicks back. But their character belongs in a much more universal past, melodic, easy going, naïve, simplistic, and on American highways, dealing in beauty and expanse that everybody can understand. It’s a bright record that evokes the well rounded pop of The Kinks and The Hollies, the twinkling country of The Byrds and Big Star, given the fuzzy indie drive of Yo La Tengo or the Olivia Tremor Control. It’s easy to peg down, but it’s a sound that’s on the move, with the wind in its hair.
Opening instrumental ‘Yoga Means Union’ is as good a way to introduce the experience as any, a Pavement/REM slide guitar mesh that works towards a pre-Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips psychedelic crescendo. ‘Anecdote’ is sharp upbeat acoustic pop that reminds us of ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’ with happy Elliot Smith harmonies, and is as good as you expect Brendan Benson to be, but rarely is. ‘Primitive’ features a Beck-esque monologue over spiraling blues-pop licks, ‘Ophelia’ similar over more Ray Davies fare with a terrific bass lead. The single ‘Heavy Lifting’ remains the treat though, like finding a pure chocolate Kit Kat, like Lennon and the Lemonheads segueing into Led Zeppelin under twinkling stars. Come the summer proper this album could become as essential as Mini-Milks and pocket fans on the tube.share this: