Bubblegum Lemonade is the project of the Glaswegian singer-songwriter Lawrence McCluskey, who's apparently at some pains to establish his pop bona fides. The band's name is borrowed from a Cass Elliot album, and on "Caroline's Radio," McCluskey nods to the Beach Boys on the refrain (the line "Caroline knows" echoes the song "Caroline, No") before calling them out by name in the fourth verse. McCluskey's Facebook page lists a towering stack of musical influences--everything from Cake to the Kinks to something called Tesco Chainstore Mascara--and, of course, "Caroline's Radio" is itself a love letter to Radio Caroline, the offshore station owned by Ronan O'Rahilly.
Songs about songs are often a dicey proposition, but there's something about "Caroline's Radio" that rings true. It starts with the opening lines: "Caroline lives for the radio / Caroline lives for the evening show." Not to put too fine a point on it, but there have been times when, like Caroline, I was living for the radio--times when music was the only thing I had that would kick-start my emotions. I suspect this is a common experience among music fans. Friends, family, lovers, the color of the sky: these are the things that make life worth living, but they're also inconstant, subject to change. Music is music, though, every time you turn to it. That's why people fall in love with songs; that's why pop singers are able to become millionaires. That's why O'Rahilly started Radio Caroline in the first place, and why The Atlantic runs a feature like Track of the Day.
conjures all this up with a quick sketch of a girl lying in bed,
listening to tunes floating in from the dark. I'm not sure I can hear
Cake or the Kinks in "Caroline's Radio," but I can hear a songwriter
who understands the power of songs. So McCluskey's credentials are
solid as far as I'm concerned.
On iTunes: Bubblegum Lemonade / "Caroline's Radio"