Universal High MARATHON ARTISTS. CD/DL/LP
South London alt-rockers’ soulful second-LP evolution. On 2014’s Lacuna, Childhood were vaguely dubby indie rock soundscapers, often oblique, but full of promise. Here, that potential is fully converted, via a repositioning comparable with Paul Weller’s from The Jam’s gritty, intense last gasp to The Style Council’s freshly chilled, uncluttered grooves. There’s a lazy-hazy À Paris EP vibe about tunes like Cameo, Understanding and upfront single Californian Light, all doubtless sourced from beloved Chicago soul icons like Curtis Mayfield and The Chi-Lites. Star-inwaiting frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft makes all the requisite leaps into dreamy falsetto, and in his less opaque lyrics mines the pain of a malfunctioning relationship, as well as wistful ruminations on growing up. There are a couple of cracking upbeat dancers aboard too (Don’t Have Me Back; Too Old For My Tears), plus some endearing quirks (retro-cheesy synths, restless song structures). All told: a summer soul smash.