The name is almost an oxymoron, jacked up yet smooth. But that’s a pretty accurate description of the charming and infectious retro-pop served up by the band, a collaboration between Jon Lawler of The Fratellis and Lou Hickey, an heretofore unknown cabaret singer from Glasgow. The eponymous album was released in 2009 and failed to chart any singles but did have a video nominated for an award by MTV Europe; the album was released in the US almost a year ago, adding a bonus track cover of a Stone Roses classic.
Video: “I Am The Resurrection”
Reportedly the pair came together when Hickey received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council and asked her friend – Lawler’s wife – for advice. The Fratellis were taking a break and Lawler was looking for something to do between albums. Lawler is a fan of James Bond film scores; Hickey an old-school type geeked about swing, big band and Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra. What are the odds that these two would find each other and mesh so seamlessly, from vocals to songwriting skill? Timing is everything.
I was pretty floored considering the image that The Fratellis present in their music; CVC is a much more sophisticated set of songs. The Codeine Velvet Club most often mixes Cabaret-style posturing with cinematic pop; Hickey’s voice is perfect and she’s a great visual focal point as well. Lawler slides into this other persona with ease, and the assembled backing band adds punch and atmosphere. No wonder that there’s a little John Barry in there; trumpeter Derek Watkins has played on every Bond soundtrack to date.
Video: “Little Sister”
Sadly, they’ve disbanded already. Let’s hope that like many great side projects, the principals decide to reanimate it from time to time. In the meantime, if this means a new Fratellis album is on the way (although Lawler is hinting about going solo), that would be more great news.
Listen to clips on Amazon.
The Fratellis website