Lunchbox - Lunchbox Loves You - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lunchbox - Lunchbox Loves You

by Jeff Penczak Rating:6.5 Release Date:2014-06-10

Lunchbox was Tim Brown and Donna McKean, whose rollercoaster discography consisted of four albums of power-pop/punk a la The Jam and Buzzcocks before disappearing about a decade ago. They returned under the Birds of California moniker for last year’s One and Only, and have now exhumed their original name for another set of charming, sugar-coated gum-drops of ooey gooey pop that’s sure to exercise your happy feet and put a grin between your ears. ‘Everybody Knows’ is lo-fi perfection: a shambolic backing of rat-a-tat drumming, chiming guitars, and McKean’s cuddly, girl-next-door vocals, while ‘Tom What’s Wrong?’ adds a few Beach Boys-y harmonies, but still captures the duo at their power-pop best.

Fans of female-fronted twee-poppers like Go Sailor and Dressy Bessy will be in heaven (if you have the But I’m a Cheerleader soundtrack, you need this too!) At times (eg, ‘Will You Be True?’ and the everything’s-in-there-including-the-kitchen-sink mess of closer ‘Tonight is Out of Sight’), the lo-fi, homemade atmospherics overwhelm the song, lending a presumably unintentional air of amateurism to the album and pushing the meter past ‘twee’ into ‘cute’ territory. That’s a road best left untraveled.

There’s certainly no denying the pair’s ability to capture your heart with infectious melodies, and I can listen to McKean’s perky voice all day. Unfortunately, there’s not enough of it, and Brown’s vocals are jarringly flat by comparison. His tracks (‘Give a Little Love’, ‘Will You Be True?’, ‘Another Dancefloor’, et al) almost sink the album.

I enjoyed the unexpected, dizzying wah-wah fuzz flourishes on ‘It Feels Good to Lose’ and the chirpy flute arrangement on ‘I Go Mad’, but need to hear more McKean-voiced tracks to really appreciate all Lunchbox have to offer. 

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