For some the phrase pop-music is an instant turn off, but in truth they are missing the point a little. The whole point of music is for an audience to be entertained, be it the moody teen listening to their favourite epic maths-rock opus, my jazz playing friend getting into the swing with his Count Basie albums, a toddler singing along to Bob the Builder, or those pre-teen rock fans first discovering the joy of guitar music via McFly ten years ago who found a whole world of rock music they never imagined existed, music’s primary purpose is to entertain us. That’s something that The Lightning Seeds never lost sight of. While all around them were trying to project an air of aloof coolness or toxic laddishness, Ian Broudie and his band were happy just writing bright, summery pop tunes to entertain the masses and to hell with the notion of cool. All they needed was an irresistible hook, a memorable chorus and a solid melody.
Starting out as a purely studio-based outfit, Broudie’s first few singles were pure solo affairs, but when he did recruit a full band, things really took off, with staples of 90s radio like “Change” and “Marvellous” being among some of the most enduring singles of the decade. Broudie wasn’t behind the door at recruiting a good writing partner when it was necessary either, as a number of co-credits with the likes of Terry Hall and Babybird demonstrate. A dream-like cover of “You Showed Me” indicated that it wasn’t just the self-penned material the band could execute with aplomb – truly this was a band in pursuit of the perfect pop single.
So why weren’t The Lightning Seeds one of the biggest bands of the decade? Perhaps it’s because ‘serious’ music fans viewed them as little more than slightly sugary fluffy pop confectionery, which is a ridiculous claim as the lyrics to these sixteen songs can be as bitter and barbed as any of their none-more-cool indie band contemporaries, probably more so infact as nasty and bitter lyrics are always more subversive when wrapped in a happy pop tune. No, The Lightning Seeds’ lack of success was probably down to the fact that they were never the most visually stimulating group, being one of those bands you could easily pass in the street without realising it. This lack of image meant that they got little press coverage, so beyond a rousing football anthem (which they usually get second billing for anyway), big hits were thin on the ground for them.
Perhaps the only thing harder than writing a smart power-pop song, is admitting that you like a smart power-pop song.