Review of Lament, by Lament (Fraction Records) – by Alex Tremaine, The Guardian, 12th June 2016. Score: 2 stars out of 5
Did anyone think we needed (or even deserved) an indie landfill revival? On the strength of Lament’s machine tooled debut, one might be tempted to answer with a dispirited “yes”.
During the nineties the landscape of British guitar music was blighted by indie landfill. Young, straight white kids from dead end towns brandishing new guitars, a dash of street attitude and a hatful of modest melodies found themselves the recipients of extravagant recording contracts. In the wake of the successes of The Strokes, The Libertines and Bloc Party the production line was cranked up, the problem being that these identikit bands were not ready to be let loose into an already crowded scene.
Say what you like about this record, Lament are ready.
The band’s sound has been precision engineered for maximum market saturation by a crack troop of corporate marketeers. The pace is swift and efficient (à la The Strokes), the choruses all arm-around-your-mate singalongs (à la Oasis), the arrangements efficient and unadorned (à la The Kooks), the attitude over-confident and in your face (à la Kasabian). This is what happens when the mainstream collides with the eccentrically faceted stylings of old school indie, a commercially driven, tick box exercise that’s resulted in a coterie of Brit School brats (where the band inevitably met) getting loaded up with a deal where hefty sales forecasts ride roughshod over credibility and authenticity (© Coldplay).
I dread saying this, but I get the feeling this band is going to be huge.
Nothing dies on the internet
The video was posted to TikTok on 13th March 2022 by charbruh9: a tightly choreographed dance routine filmed (for whatever reason) in a white tiled bathroom to a hooky, bass-driven soundtrack. I had no idea about it until Matt messaged me: Jimmy boy! Check this out. The dance – performed by charbruh9, a raven-haired seventeen-year-old wearing wet look leggings – was nothing to do with me. The music though definitely was.
I showed it to Lucy.
‘That’s, um…’ She frowned. ‘That’s a Lament song, right?’
'Yup,’ I said. ‘First album.’ I watched as charbruh9 grooved her way through a bass hook I’d written six years previously. ‘She’s good.’ Lucy pursed her lips in thought; I didn’t like the look of that. ‘Matt sent me the link,’ I said by way of explanation, as if that was going to help Lucy’s mood.
‘And why do you think he did that?’
I shrugged, palms up. ‘Don’t ask me.’
Lucy shook her head. ‘Please tell me you’re not that naïve.’
‘It was a link,’ I said. ‘He’s not pitching anything.’
Lucy tossed my phone back to me, her expression clouding with irritation. ‘Not yet he isn’t.’
‘Look at the views,’ I said, peering at my phone. ‘It’s gone proper mental.’
‘What an achievement,’ Lucy sniffed.
‘At least Jake isn’t on it,’ I offered.
Lucy tilted her chin toward the ceiling, an indication she was on the verge of losing her shit. ‘Jake fucking Kelso,’ she said. ‘Why doesn’t he just die?’
‘Uh, bit strong,’ I said.
Lucy paused, hand on hip, her default pissed off stance. ‘You think he deserves to be forgiven?’
‘Um, I guess not,’ I ventured.
‘“I guess not”? Jesus Christ, Jim. Come on.’
‘I mean no,’ I said. ‘That’s what I meant. Obviously.’
‘Jake is the reason you’ve sat there and done nothing for two years.’
‘I’m thinking about stuff,’ I said. ‘Re-grouping.’
Lucy used to work as a writer for Nice Planet, I’ll Take It, a job that mostly involved her Instagramming selfies from Calangute Beach in Goa holding a hollowed-out coconut with a couple of straws sticking out of it. When the global tsunami of COVID-19 hit, Lucy packed away a suitcase crammed with bikinis and denim shorts and hunkered down with me, not realising how traumatised I was by the end of the band I’d played in since I was seventeen. My girlfriend is beautiful, ambitious, energetic, impatient, and easy to irritate, especially if I happened to be in the room – understandable, as I can be quite irritating.
‘Well, fucking well re-group quicker then,’ Lucy said.
Lament split up when I was twenty five. Our second album 4/4 sold a quarter of a million copies before Jake fucked everything up for us all. Matt was keen for the band to return to its unit shifting heyday, a scenario I couldn’t see happening any time in the foreseeable.
‘It’s the way the industry’s going,’ Matt said during a randomly scheduled Teams call. ‘Has gone, actually. Get a clip doing numbers and you’re cooking. I mean, TikTok’s fucking insidious, but at least nobody’s gone full-on mental about it, which has to tell you something.’
The first time Matt called me on Teams I assumed his background was some stock photograph, a marble and steel kitchen with a view of verdant countryside beyond. That’s until Inga – his model/influencer Swedish wife – wafted airily behind him, an armful of yellow roses clutched to her chest. ‘Um, like what?’ I said.
‘That the Jake thing wasn’t as bad as everyone thought,’ Matt said.
‘You really think that?’ I said.
Matt pouted, annoyed. ‘You want to see the man cancelled for good?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘That’d be nice.’
Matt tried on a lopsided, good natured grin for size. ‘Jake’s twenty eight,’ he said. ‘Same age Ian Curtis was when he checked out. What a waste that was – the difference being that Jake still has so much to give.’
‘Everybody hated us,’ I said.
‘Everybody hates Coldplay,’ Matt said. ‘You think they care, sat on their enormous thrones of cash?’
‘We’re not Coldplay,’ I said.
‘Nobody hated you, actually,’ Matt said, again giving no sign he was listening. ‘I mean, like, personally. You were very inoffensive.’
Inoffensive. Like the music press Matt Porteous knew how to dish out a compliment.
‘Hang on,’ I said. ‘Ian Curtis never made it to twenty eight.’
Matt laughed. ‘That’s why I handle the business side,’ he said, ‘so you can obsess about the pub quiz questions.’
‘We have a business side?’ I said.
Matt laughed again. His easy, affable confidence had always been something I’d envied. ‘Wait and see, Jimmy boy,’ he said. ‘Just you wait and see.’
I Am Kelso, Destroyer of Worlds
During the 4/4 tour three forty-foot lorries loaded with lighting, a state-of-the-art sound system and an elaborate stage set barreled into Brighton. The Brighton Centre – a concrete outhouse on the seafront used for party political conferences – was sold out. The tickets had flown out the door in twenty minutes, bought by people who – according to the NME – ‘actively disliked music’. On the bus I’d watched loudQUIETloud on my phone, a documentary about how miserable the Pixies had been on their reunion tour of 2006. Everything appeared to be a grinding arse ache, but a financial necessity. The band looked bored, miserable, resentful. I could relate to that. Three quarters of Lament and the roadcrew were staying at a comfortable, mid-priced hotel next to the station. After a series of pre-tour flounces Jake had secured himself a suite at the Grand. The next morning the bus idled on the seafront outside Jake’s hotel. Forty minutes later he’d stomped on board in a foul mood, tetchy and hungover. None of that was unusual. What was unusual was that the back of one of his hands was bruised and there was a small, bloody dent on the side of his forehead. Nobody said anything. Why would they have done? Jake had a reputation for being a diva, throwing his toys around at the slightest provocation. Perhaps one had bounced off something and hit him on the head. Good. He’d probably deserved it.
The drive to Brixton was uneventful. Touring means endless driving. It’s dull. One motorway looks much the same as the other. I finished watching loudQUIETloud. Marziale and Nick played rummy for wraps of coke and Jake slept with his Lament branded hoodie pulled down over his eyes, thankfully comatose until we pulled up at the back of the Academy to discharge three tons of gear. The 4/4 tour was a monster: logistically, financially, physically, emotionally. Jake had his own masseur and a rider that specified (amongst a mad jumble of other things) twelve bottles of Louis Roederer, three iced caramel lattes from Starbucks and absolutely no bananas (“Seriously, this is a NO BANANA tour”). The bullshit quotient was off the scale.
Four months later a post appeared on Instagram under the account ellalou2:
I met Jake Kelso on 5th May 2019. I loved Lament. Their music has helped me through some difficult times. Seeing them live was amazing and meeting Jake afterwards was exciting and a little bit intimidating but he was charming and funny, doing his best to put me at my ease. He had a suite at the Grand. It’s where we went after the show. We drank Champagne until we were both REALLY drunk. We ended up sleeping on the same bed. I remember him kissing me. I must’ve blacked out as the next thing I remember was that Jake was on top of me, inside me. I couldn’t move as he’d pinned me to the bed. I was too shocked to cry out or to do anything as I was too embarrassed, too humiliated, too frightened.
I’ve struggled about coming forward with this as my memory of that evening is hazy at best. But the one thing I do know about what happened was that I was RAPED. And my rapist’s name is JAKE KELSO.
Our world imploded. We had just started prepping for a US tour. Marziale, Nick and myself messaged Jake, who hadn’t shown up for the first two days of rehearsals. He didn’t reply. We crowded round Nick’s phone and called Matt who didn’t answer either. Within the hour Jake released his own statement:
I have made mistakes. I am not a perfect man. None of us are. But I do not accept this version of events. It is false. I would never do this to anyone, ever. The thought of it turns my stomach. These are just some random stranger’s words on the internet, someone I do not recall meeting. I have spoken to my legal representatives and will respond in due course to refute these falsehoods.
Jake called me just before seven the next morning. I’d spent the previous evening scrolling through on-line comments from both the pro- and anti-Jake lobbies, comments that had rapidly turned into a cesspit of malice and stupidity. The inside of my head felt raw, bruised.
‘Jesus, man,’ Jake said. He sounded breezy, relaxed. ‘Can you believe this shit?’
'What the fuck, Jake,’ I said, not yet fully awake. ‘What the fuck.’
‘So, we spent the night together,’ Jake said. ‘There’s no law against that.’
‘You said you’d never met her.’
‘Yeah, well.’ Jake laughed. ‘My bad. Oops.’
‘“My bad”?’ I said. ‘Jesus! What are we gonna do?’
‘Matt’s been speaking to some people.’
‘People?’ I said. ‘What people?
‘I don’t fucking know,’ Jake said. ‘PR goons, crisis management. Whatever.’
‘If any of what she’s said is true,’ I said, ‘then we’re done.’
‘Christ almighty, keep your knickers on,’ Jake said. ‘Matt’ll sort it.’
‘How?’ I shrieked. ‘How is he going to sort this?’
Jake groaned. I could almost picture the look on his face: bored, contemptuous, airily wondering about how his latent greatness was going to paper over this latest shitshow. ‘Stuff like this blows over if you just do nothing.’
‘Is it true?’ I said. ‘What she said on Insta? That girl?’
I could feel Jake working himself up into one of his patented meltdowns. ‘How could you ask me that, man?’ he said. ‘Honestly, how could you? You’re fucking unbelievable.’
Jake hung up.
Ellalou2’s real name was Ella Kristen, a twenty two year old artist who lived in Brighton. Her version of events seemed credible, solid. A photograph appeared on her Instagram account two days after her initial post, a close up of a young woman’s face, one eye and cheek bruised, mascara dissolving into blurred tears.
The caption: I WILL NOT SIGN AN NDA.
Crisis Management Guide: How to Handle a PR Catastrophe
I met Marziale and Nick in a private room upstairs at The Joker, the grey walled gastro pub just round the corner from Nick’s flat he rented when he was in town. Everyone looked dazed, punch drunk.
‘He’s never done anything like this before,’ Nick said.
‘Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it,’ I said.
‘Can’t we wait,’ Marziale said, ‘see how this pans out?’
‘We have to do something,’ I said.
‘Has anyone spoken to Fraction?’ Nick said.
‘That’s Matt’s job,’ Marziale said.
‘Bollocks to Fraction,’ I said. ‘All they’re interested in is money.’
‘Well, duh,’ Nick said.
‘You want to play in a band with a rapist?’ I said.
Nick thought about this a second too long.
‘Fuck’s sake,’ I said. ‘What is there to think about here?’
‘This is my job, man,’ Nick said. ‘This is what I do.’
‘Doesn’t he get the benefit of the doubt?’ Marziale said. ‘Innocent ‘til proven guilty and all that?’
Nick’s phone on the table in front of us lit up.
‘It’s Matt,’ Nick said. He stabbed at his phone.
‘Am I on speaker?’ Matt said.
‘Yeah,’ Nick said. ‘Do it.’
‘Just thought you should know,’ Matt said. ‘There’s a video.’
I felt as if someone had just dropped a bass cabinet on my head. ‘What?’
‘Loudwater are working on a statement from Jake as we speak,’ Matt said.
‘Louder what now?’ Marziale said.
‘Loudwater,’ Matt said. ‘Crisis PR. They work with big consumer brands and government departments. I’ve called in a favour.’
That sounded expensive. ‘What about a statement from us?’ I said.
‘No need,’ Matt said. ‘Let it play out. Relax, Jim. Be cool.’
‘Sounds like we’re heading for another of those “Jake Kelso is bigger than the band” moments,’ Nick said.
‘What’s he gonna say in this statement?’ I said.
‘“I’m sorry that you feel like that,”’ Matt said. ‘The classic non-apology apology.’
‘Have you seen this video?’ I said.
Matt hesitated a moment before answering: ‘Yes.’
‘No comment,’ Matt said.
‘Fuckin’ hell,’ Marziale said.
‘If you all just bloody well keep quiet,’ Matt said, ‘this all goes away.’
‘And what do we do ‘til then?’ I said.
‘Nothing,’ Matt said. ‘Just – do – nothing. Is it really that difficult to understand?’
‘It’ll look like we don’t care,’ I said, ‘like we let Jake do whatever he wants.’
‘What’s on the video?’ Marziale said.
‘Take it from me,’ Matt said, ‘you don’t want to know.’
‘Did he rape her?’ I said. Matt was silent. ‘Matt. Jesus. Did he rape that girl or not?’
‘I’d rather not go there if it’s all the same with you,’ Matt said. ‘It’s of no relevance to…’
‘It’s a simple fucking question,’ I interrupted. ‘Yes, or no?’
Matt’s voice wavered with a furious exasperation. ‘No comment.’
I hung up.
Nick looked at me agog. ‘What’d you do that for?’
‘Fuck all this,’ I said. ‘We’re done.’
Later that evening, Marziale, Nick and myself released a statement with the grudging support of our label:
Lament is no more. In light of the accusations against our singer, we have made the decision to dissolve the band with immediate effect in order to disassociate ourselves from the actions of Jake Kelso. Victims should always be believed. Our solidarity is with Ella and all victims of sexual violence.
Twenty four hours later, a statement from Jake appeared on his Insta:
I would like to issue a statement in order to draw this episode to a close. I recognise my instinct to be untruthful about not having met Ella was a mistake. I’m sorry for your upset, Ella. If I have done something that made you feel somehow less, that I wasn’t treating you with the respect you deserve, then I apologise. I hope you will be able to forgive me, and in time to become my friend. I would like that very much. Jake xx
Nothing further appeared on ellalou2’s Instagram. The video never materialised. No criminal charges were pursued. There were speculative reports of an NDA and a payment to an unnamed charity, the conclusion being that Ella Kristen was legally not able to speak about what Jake Kelso had or had not done to her. In a maelstrom of condemnation and upset I turned off my phone, abandoned the idea of Lament and crawled into bed, utterly defeated. I didn’t get up for a fortnight.