A year ago next week, I travelled to Wigan to speak with The Lathums in their rehearsal room in their hometown. At that time, they were still putting the finishing touches on their debut album with the guiding hand of The Coral’s James Skelly. Having been left in a period of flux amid the pandemic, How Beautiful Life Can Be is finally due for release through Island Records, arriving Friday, September 24th.
The band arrived into the face of the pandemic riding a wave of excitement. It’s a crest that has somehow only increased over the last 18 months despite not being able to resume a touring schedule until this summer. There’s been a shift in people’s music tastes over this period of transition, and discovering new artists has been a source of comfort, leading to The Lathums’ popularity soaring.
How Beautiful Life Can Be is a magnetic effort that sees the Wigan band make their case for being the next group to become a household name from the North West.
Being an indie band isn’t necessarily a fashionable thing in 2021. Still, The Lathums’ debut offering showcases their old-school stylings, timeless songwriting, and a knack for infectious melodies, which finds an audience, no matter what the era.
Before their storming set at NBHD Weekender, I caught up with frontman Alex Moore backstage, who gave Far Out the track by track lowdown on the album. Shortly after, they garnered the most significant crowd I witnessed all weekend on ‘The Big Top’ stage and confirmed for me that something special is brewing with The Lathums. After all, how many bands schedule a show at the prestigious Empress Ballroom in Blackpool before releasing an album?
The Lathums discuss ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’ track by track:
‘Circles Of Faith’
Album opener, ‘Circles of Faith’, sets the album off to a grand and emphatic start. “I think the music, we had for quite a while, but only put words on it a couple of months later,” the singer explains.
The highlight of the track is guitarist Scott Concepcion reeling off a Johnny Marr-Esque riff which brings injects life into the song, and Moore’s uplifting lyricism brings an end to the comparisons with The Smiths. “After we recorded it, it kind of felt like an opener. It just felt right,” he adds.
‘I’ll Get By’
The second track of the album is the blissful single ‘I’ll Get By‘, which the band released earlier this summer. The epitomises the general theme of the record, which is a sunny side up glance at life.
“Lyrically, it’s of my favourites and for what it means to me,” he earnestly says. “Like the chorus, ‘I’ll get by, on the things you like”, it’s just very innocent. It all just landed to me, and I think I was just using it as a bit of therapy for me at the time.”
If anything sums up their glass-half-full approach, it’s the visuals for the track which saw locals from Wigan step in at the last minute after a Covid-19 outbreak scuppered their original plans and leaving the band to think on their feet.
“I was funny; it was a bit mad there was like an alpaca farm which was dead cool,” he says armed with a grin. “There was loads of, and I was that was one of the dancers in the last shot, and we went on to like an old working men’s club, there were loads of people dressed up to the nines. They had a proper routine and everything,” he says in total admiration.
‘Fight On’ is where the journey started to take off for The Lathums and one of their first songs that caught fire. It’s only fitting that they made a rejigged version of the track for How Beautiful Life Can Be, and the song is one that Moore dearly cares for.
“That was like when we first started getting a lot of traction on Twitter,” he comments about the original release of the song. “It was just like a thought and a feeling. We’d played a good few gigs at that point and had a little stop. I think that it was just a culmination of everything I had in my head at that time.”
‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’
The initial lockdown at the start of 2020 affected everyone in different ways, and Moore was brought down just like everybody else. Then, one conversation with his mother filled him with the optimism needed to write the titular track.
“Life wasn’t very good,” he admits. “But my mum was talking me around, saying, ‘It’s not always going to be like this’. She put it all out there, and I just pieced it together. When I listen back to the songs, there is that element of it being from a bad place, but wanting to make a bit of light out of it.”
“I feel really strongly about ‘How Beautiful Life Can Be’, especially the message at that point in time when the world was just coming out of lockdown, coming to terms with getting back to normal life. It was just a good message to put out there in the universe.”
‘The Great Escape’
It would have been sinful for The Lathums to have left ‘The Great Escape’ off their debut LP after the euphoric anthem played such a crucial role in their mammoth rise. Like ‘Fight On’, it’s got a facelift for How Beautiful life Can Be and sounds even more rousing than its raw little brother.
“Just to kind of give it some more attention,” he says about recording a new version of the track. “We recorded it in 2018, which isn’t a long time at all in terms of life, but when you put songs, EPs, and albums in the mix, we’ve gone so many songs past that because we have to be ready for the next step, but it needed that time and attention because it’s one of the first songs we ever did.”
Looking back on the days of playing ‘The Great Escape’ on the local pub circuit, Moore reflects, “We always had good support, but because we didn’t have nothing online and it was just all about playing it live, people didn’t even know the songs.”
‘I Won’t Lie’
‘I Won’t Lie’ is an example of The Lathums spreading their wings and maturing as a band. Its placing on the album makes for a heartening juxtaposition next to old-time favourite, ‘The Great Escape’ on How Beautiful Life Can Be. It’s fun, unconventional, and will even raise a smile from the most cold-blooded individual.
“It’s very different, isn’t it,” Moore notes. “I also love the lyrics in that one as well. It’s sort of like a story, and I like stories,” he says coyly. “I think we only finished it as a band like a couple of weeks before we went in to record the album.”
‘I See Your Ghost’
This number further expresses the diversification of The Lathums’ sound and how they have developed so much in just a couple of years since gaining adulation. The track pays tribute to the Northern Soul heritage of their hometown and would have got feet tapping at Wigan Casino back in those halcyon days.
Moore reveals that this was the final track that the group finished for the album, and he felt like the fast tempo of ‘I Feel Your Ghost’ was a needed energiser for the album. “I had the verses for ages,” he reveals. “But I didn’t write the choruses until the studio session because I wanted something with a bit more grit, bit more passion because we had loads of very thoughtful and deep songs.”
‘Oh My Love’
After the exhilaration of ‘I See Your Ghost‘, The Lathums slow things down with ‘Oh My Love’, which is a delightful acoustic ditty that captures the innocence of young love and devoted affection.
“These are the kind of songs are the ones that I write,” Moore says about his soft style of songwriting. “I’ve got loads like this that people haven’t heard, and I don’t think people will hear, which is well annoying. There’s only so many songs you can put on albums, and there are only so many albums you can release. We can’t just release the same kind of tune, so we have to mix it up and experiment.”
‘I’ll Never Forget The Time I Spent With You’
As the album nears towards 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. It’s the deepest song on the record, and Moore admits the track has a great personal significance to him, which meant “I couldn’t not put it on”.
Expanding on his point, the singer adds, “It’s mad, I wrote the lyrics which are really relevant to me, where I live, and the people I love. But, I wrote it when I was so far away, we were in London, and had just played a gig. All of my life and all of the surroundings that I had before were suddenly different. I was looking back at my life and wondering how it will turn out,” he reflects. “I was kind of excited about it but apprehensive too.”
‘I Know That Much’
Moore has a knack for writing wistful songs that expresses wisdom beyond his years, and there’s a dogged determination to ‘I Know That Much’ about carrying on despite your chips being down. In fact, the song came from a belief that the band would enjoy days like Friday, even when it looked like a pipedream.
“It got rushed, almost,” he says. “We went from pubs to venues and went into to Parr Street to record, but it just needed time to breathe,” Moore says about revisiting the track.
“I wrote it when we weren’t sure what was going on. I was working in between it, and we were in that weird limbo part that I think every band goes through. We stuck with it, and that’s where we were at that point in time”.
The album’s most bombastic, raucous, and explosive moment arrives with ‘Artificial Screens’. For fans that have followed their journey for a while, this song is undoubtedly a favourite, and Moore is in agreement.
“It’s dead good to play live, a bit like ‘I See Your Ghost’,” he comments. “It’s just raw and a little token of how we were at the start compared to how we are now. That was the first tune I ever wrote for the band, I was just used to writing songs on my own in my bedroom, but I never wrote any rocky ones. They were always more melodic, then I tried this and was buzzing.”
‘The Redemption of Sonic Beauty’
The Lathums save the most unexpected track until last with the piano-led ‘The Redemption of Sonic Beauty’, which sees Moore flex his voice extraordinarily, reaching for gloriously high notes, and an unapologetically indulgent solo that brings proceedings to a theatrical end.
“All of the songs that you’ve just listened to, and then you get to this one at the end, and you’re like, ‘What the hell are they going to do after this? Where are they going to go from this?'” Moore passionately comments. “It’s a different type of song to what we’ve done before, it’s not just a different genre, and it’s cinematic. It’s a little step,” he cryptically adds about The Lathums’ next direction.