You might not have heard of The Lottery Winners, and that’s OK. Pretty soon though, if they carry on down their current path, stardom beckons. This, their sophomore effort Something To Leave the House For, brings them closer than ever to that stardom.
My path to Something to Leave the House For was quite a long and enjoyable one. I first heard The Lottery Winners on one of the smaller stages at the amazing summer festival Kendal Calling. Ambling along the path with my wife one slightly damp afternoon, I chanced upon the change over between bands at The Woodlands Stage. Spying my chance to grab a cocktail at the nearby (quiet) bar and with no set destination in mind, my better half and I decided to take a chance and watch whatever act was on next. Boy are we glad we did.
The set itself is a blur (I blame the cocktails) but what I do remember is the gang-like mentality of the band, a front man that was charm and charisma personified, and an absolute killer final song: ’21’. A song that reminded me of mooching through the streets of Manchester in my University days, simultaneously feeling the melancholy of a world that didn’t understand me and the optimism that comes with youth.
Fast forward some months and, with tickets for a local venue procured and their debut album due for imminent release, the world changed. And not for the better. Like most bands releasing an album into a COVID hit society, there was a real sense that this hard working group might be lost to a world with more pressing concerns. However, the optimism that permeated that fantastic debut was channeled into Sounds of Isolation, a covers album that brought together brand new takes on classics by everyone from Joy Division to Dolly Parton (and yes, it is as fantastic as it sounds!).
A quick stop off to record the Start Again EP and we arrive at the second album proper.
If you’ve never heard the band, album opener ‘Favourite Flavour’ is the perfect way to start. All jangley pop perfection after a jaunty ‘Hello’ from singer/guitarist Thom Rylance, the song perfectly encapsulates both The Lottery Winners and great pop in general; upbeat tunes with pure, catchy hooks underpinned by lyrics that seem, at first, a little melancholy, before the gloom is lifted to reveal a vocal positivity that matches the music. From the grind of the ‘rat race’ and the challenge of an existence with a ‘name tag pinned to my t shirt’, Thom sings of the happiness that comes when he ‘think[s) I’ve finally found my someone’. If you could bottle pure pop happiness, the contents would be ‘Favourite Flavour’.
The melancholy/happiness combination continues on the aptly named ‘Sunshine’ this time bassist Katie Lloyd singing, ‘you are my sunshine’ and ‘you are my silver line’. Two tunes in and it’s clear that, if they haven’t already, The Lottery Winners will soon graduate from everyone’s favorite support act to having the tunes to headline their own shows.
‘Much Better’ continues the pop master class; a festival favorite in the making, it feels like a tune that will be elevated by having a field full of people chanting the chorus back to the band. It’s another tune that, even on first listen, feels like you’ve been singing it all your life.
KT Tunstall then joins the band on ‘Dance with the Devil’. Originally released on the ‘Start Again’ EP, an ode to the Faustian bargain we make every time we head for an night on the town; fun always comes with a price.
By the time you arrive at ‘Love Yourself’, The Lottery Winners formula is in place—highly polished pop that sounds like Rylance and Co. are singing just for you and to you. As someone that’s probably old enough to be their dad, it’s refreshing that such heart-on-your-sleeve doesn’t feel saccharine or contrived, it feels like the uplift the world needs now. The chant/gospel coda ‘get up off of your feet’ makes you want to do just that.
’85 Trips’ once again sees Lloyd take lead vocals and there is more than a nod to classic 1980s pop—think Fleetwood Mac or Belinda Carlisle and you’re not far wrong—before Frank Turner joins the band on another live-favourite-in-waiting ‘Start Again’. You can’t help thinking that, no matter how subtle, the state of the world and the effect it’s had on people has given The Lottery Winners a cause. Their spirit seems indefatigable; a determination that, no matter what, the world is a great place and we shouldn’t let temporary setbacks get us down.
Side B continues the theme. First single ‘Times Are Changing’ feels like a call to arms against the travails of the world. A celebration of friendship and togetherness, the track feels like a musical metaphor for always checking in with a friend. And we could all do with a little more of that in the world. ‘Hotel Deville’ sounds like the other side of the same coin. An admission that life isn’t always easy. Rylance admitting that, ‘I’ve been holding on to fingertips for far too long’, before the confession ‘but now my hope is gone’. The intertwining vocals of Rylance and Lloyd her bringing back that strange feeling of melancholia that shot through Side A.
‘Love Bites’ on the other hand is the imaginary indie-pop soundtrack to every ’80s film I never watched and would probably star Anthony Michael Hall should they have existed. Brilliant. 1990s Indie Royalty Sleeper join the band on ‘Bad Things’ and is probably the best of the three collaborations in the LP (in a close run race!).
‘Overthink Everything’ is a sweet, slow acoustic number that brings things down a little and reveals a vulnerable Rylance wearing his insecurity on his sleeve. ‘Overthink…’ immediately transports you to a time of first love; Rylance admitting on behalf of us all, ‘I overthink everything all the time’.
If ‘Overthink Everything’ makes you want to cry tears of sadness, penultimate track ‘Something To Leave The House For’ is one of those rare beasts in pop: an uplifting slice of pop perfection that makes you want to cry tears of joy. The album’s title track is big, bold and beautiful. Drummer Joe Singleton carrying the beat whilst guitarist Robert Lally shines throughout; it’s over far too quickly.
Finally ‘See You Later’ acts as both album closer and final reminder that The Lottery Winners have crafted a high quality record. One that, once heard, will be on repeated listen.
With a US appearance at SXSW 2022 in March and US dates to follow, now really is the time to get a ticket for The Lottery Winners