The Lathums have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the pile over the last couple of years. But that hype and hyperbole stand for nothing unless you produce the goods when it really matters — your debut album. On How Beautiful Life Can Be, the Wigan natives have risen to the task and made an album that manages to be anthemic while retaining a profound earnestness.
As the title suggests, How Beautiful Life Can Be, is an ode to life. It’s a joyous chronicle of their journey up to the point they find themselves today. They’ve already released well over an album worth of material throughout that time, which means some oldies face omission. Still, they strike a delicate balance between celebrating the past and their evolution.
In 2019, The Charlatans frontman, and the nicest man in indie, Tim Burgess, stumbled upon their work just before the Kendal Calling festival, inviting them to play on his curated stage at short notice. It was a moment the band will remember forever and can be easily pinpointed as the first domino falling on their way to indie domination.
Despite the majority of the time since then being spent locked down within a global pandemic, The Lathums used that time to work tirelessly at the recently shut down Parr Street Studios in Liverpool under the guiding hands of producers Chris Taylor and The Coral’s James Skelly.
Since their initial breakthrough, they have enhanced their sound, matured as musicians, and frontman Alex Moore’s lyricism has blossomed while their fanbase continues to soar. The opening track, ‘Circles Of Life,’ sees The Lathums show off their Smiths tendencies with a sizzling jangly riff from guitarist Scott Concepcion while Moore finds himself at a crossroads, asking at the end of the track, “Well the world is turning, What am I?”
While the aforementioned track is a downbeat outlier, bereft of optimism, as the album goes on, the message of How Beautiful Life Can Be becomes more evident and encapsulated within the titular track. Written at the height of the initial lockdown after a conversation with Moore’s mother, he found light in the darkness and bottled it in a song.
‘Oh My Love’ is another effort that follows this hopeful trajectory and is a heartening acoustic ditty that captures the innocence of young love and devoted affection. It’s a side to Moore’s songwriting he also expresses on ‘I’ll Get By’, which was hidden away from their early releases but gets time to breathe on How Beautiful Life Can Be and varies the album up sweetly.
Another sign of The Lathums spreading their wings is ‘I Won’t Lie’, which, along with the Northern Soul tinged Wigan Casino floor filler, ‘I See Your Ghost’ adds some light and playfulness to the record.
Old favourites, ‘Fight On’, ‘The Great Escape’, ‘I Know That Much’, and ‘Artificial Screens’ all feature on their debut. However, it should be said they have been tailored and given a facelift, a beautification to ensure they were debut-ready. Truthfully, it wouldn’t be right if they left off these adored songs, considering how vital they have been in their ascending journey, and the reworked versions sound cohesive on the record.
As the album nears the end, The Lathums tug more aggressively on the heartstrings as Moore opens up and proves a sincere depth to his songwriting despite his tender age on, ‘I’ll Never Forget The Time I Spent With You’.
Following the explosive penultimate track, ‘Artificial Screens’, The Lathums end the album on a cryptic note with ‘The Redemption of Sonic Beauty’, which sees the band get theatrical and produce a grand finale befitting of a debut that lives up to expectations. The Lathums show on How Beautiful Life Can Be that they have the capacity of going deep underneath the sparkling surface and producing emotive work that truly means something. It’s a skill that’s become scarce in the mainstream indie sphere over the past decade a hefty contributing factor to the genre’s regression.
Could The Lathums fill that guitar-shaped void? All the right signs are there, even if the current landscape is too volatile to predict. How Beautiful Life Can Be is their coming of age moment, and suggests if anyone at the moment can break that ceiling, then it’s them.
To buy, How Beautiful Life Can Be, visit here, and tickets are available for their show at Blackpool Empress Ballroom next April from this link.