Although new wave would eventually end up shackled and codified like every other genre, its early days were characterised by a pioneering, anything goes spirit. It’s into this aesthetic that San Francisco’s Lloyds tapped, and in doing so they defined a generation with a sound that straddled several styles, and won them many fans in The Golden State and beyond. Compiling a host of the band’s best tracks, along with a blistering live set, Attitude Check perfectly illustrates why the Lloyds were, and still are, so highly regarded.
Comparing Lloyds to Blondie might seem a lazy collation (being as how both were fronted by charismatic female vocalists) but both had a kaleidoscopic sound that could fracture in any direction. However, if you are new to Lloyds (lucky you) then opening track ‘And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You)’ makes the perfect introduction. It’s powered by punk energy, but played with a pop edge and, echoing throughout this collection, a melodic sensibility. While “pop” might be a dirty word to some, Lloyds took inspiration from the cooler end, and there’s a definite nod to the golden age of girl groups; the Blossoms, Chantels, and Teen Queens are all detectable here, only filtered through a new wave lens, and the result is rather appealing. But, true to form, Lloyds take the tried and tested boy-meets-girl formula, subvert it, and shift the balance of power, putting the song in a whole new frame. That subversion of familiar themes is explored further on a cover of Bert Berns’ ‘Tell Him’, on which the band impose all sorts of time changes, and make it their own.
Why Lloyds never hit the big time shall forever remain a mystery, the fickle finger of fate can sometimes be cruel, but considering the depth and breadth of the San Francisco scene, they did well to rise to the top and come to national prominence. Whether they’re delivering the spiky and angular ‘Curiosity’, the earworm-ish ‘Nothing In Return (When The Party’s Over)’ or nocturnal ‘All Alone’, Lloyds simultaneously hit the listener on visceral and cerebral levels. This is music that attacks both the heart and the head; the tunes, complexity cloaked in simplicity, make a beeline to your memory bank while the lyricism is akin to a Kerouac novel and could be read as such, if you so wish. A prime example is ‘Lovesick’, a cut a that reverberates like a ball bouncing perpetually between two walls, it’s hypnotic in its repetition, and slowly ingratiates its way into your DNA, it gives a vapid pop air, but close scrutiny reveals anything could be further from the truth.
I’ve heard so many bands of Lloyds’ calibre falter in the live environment, those deceptively simple time changes are not so easy to replicate on stage, but any doubts about the band’s prowess are blown away by the live tracks that curtail this collection. A live version of ‘Tell Him’ evidences a band locking in tightly to deliver a powerful brand of pop-punk, which is exactly where we came in.
- Attitude Check is released via Liberation Hall on 23rd June 2023 (available here).
- Official Website
- And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You)
- Nothing In Return (When The Party’s Over)
- Boys **
- All Alone
- Up On The Wire
- Rock And Roll Made Me What I Am Today
- Tell Him
- Rogue And Lipstick **
- Attitude Check
- Boy’s Life
- I’m Still In Love With You
- Attitude Check *
- Boys *
- Kill Me *
- We Blew ‘Em All Away *
- The Tallahassee Vacuum Cleaner Massacre *
- And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You) *
- Tell Him *
* Recorded Live At Old Waldorf, San Francisco, March 30 1980
** Recorded Live At The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, California, 1980