[sic] Magazine

The Lovely Intangibles – Air & Numbers

Little snippets of music fade in and out against a cavernous backdrop. This is ‘Underscore’, the lead track from The Lovely Intangibles‘ new album Air & Numbers. It’s a teaser. The fleeting, distant clips segue together forming a trailer for the album. ‘Underscore’ resembles somebody playing with an analogue radio dial at the end of a subway tunnel except, of course, every station (pun intended) is The Lovely Intangibles. Every frequency is theirs. We’re in that universe now and it is unlike any other.

The Lovely Intangibles hail from New York State, but I always said they belonged on the West coast. Their cinematic dreamp-op vision is ‘Cowboy’ dusty and surf drenched. We saw them before, on debut Tomorrow Is Never. Since then, they’ve augmented their line-up with bassist Jon Camp of Renaissance acclaim. Shoegaze and dream-pop acts may be two-a-penny these days but, together with The Lost Patrol, (with whom there is shared DNA) The Lovely Intangibles have cornered the market for more jaunty, upbeat and accessible ‘gaze. More stylish too. Those Masucci/Williams guitars have a personality of their own. Enough to match the vocal prowess of Mary Ognibene, the latest in a line of fabulous torch singers to have worked with these boys.

Sugar and spice
And all things nice

That’s what little girls are supposed to be made of but what of Ognibene? Actually Mary co-writes approximately half of the songs here. All sweetness and light? Of course not. Yes, the music is extremely pretty if you just let the album float over you listening only superficially to melodies. Focus on the words though and you’ll find plenty of recrimination and regret. As to performance, she is quite simply beautiful. I don’t know how they do it these lads, but they seem to unearth a major vocal talent everywhere they go. I swear if I so much as let them go to the supermarket, they’d return with a Hope Sandoval mark II in tow.

From the gears and dials on the cover art, through Ognibene’s ‘gorgeous, yet human’ vocal performance, Air & Numbers is a terrific little LP. Rickenbacker’s thrum, Mosrite’s shimmer and Mary’s siren gasps and coos would easily dash most ships into splinters upon her rocks. The album starts strongly. ‘Horses On The Run’ has that instant familiarity that I associate with classics. It isn’t the only highlight here. Not by any means. A ‘list’ probably won’t be much help to anyone so instead check out ‘Red Kingdom’, which percussively revisits Cocteau TwinsHead Over Heels period and/or personal favourite ‘The Other Side’, which recalls The Boxer Rebellion‘s signature ‘Semi-Automatic’.

“Paper Cups in Hotels
How I wish you well”

The way she delivers that second line just slays me.

They close with the ethereal ‘Everywhere’, an ideal choice cementing the record’s structural perfection. The Lovely Intangibles name is half misleading. Certainly they’re fun but Air & Numbers shows them worthy of serious respect and attention. Intangible, no. But that ‘L’ word….oh God yes.


Tomorrow Is Never