Let's get this out of the way right at the beginning: The Webb Brothers are the sons of tunesmith Jimmy Webb who is best known for writing classic songs such as 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix' and 'Wichita Lineman'. But, unlike other offspring of famous musicians, they have more reason than most for going on stage – Christiaan and Justin (now joined by younger brother James) are genuinely talented young men with a gift for writing insanely catchy pop tunes.
The Webb Brothers released their self-financed low-fi debut mini-album 'Beyond the Biosphere' in 1999. As Justin explains "it is a homemade affair", but it served as their calling card and they subsequently signed to Warner Music. Last year saw the release of their first full-length album, 'Maroon', which juxtaposes gorgeous melodies with exceptionally dark lyrics, more drug references than you can shake a stick at and a nihilistic view of life that wouldn't be out of place on some of Elliott Smith's earlier material. Christiaan explains, "we were trying to capture the Chicago nightlife as we knew it. That desperate time in our twenties before we got a music contract." Opening song, The Liars Club, is a mock-happy paean to an empty existence amidst the town's bars and clubs: "We're getting older but we like to think we're young/And when the lights are low I look as if I'm 21". The drunken charade continues later in the warped waltz of Fluorescent Lights but there's no way out of a world where the girls turn 'powder-blue' after overindulging in drugs (Powder Pale).
With one bona-fide classic - 'I Can't Believe You're Gone', a cinematic vision (soundtrack flourishes at the beginning and end as well as an 'intermission' half way through) - and a sound reminiscent of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and even the late lamented Jellyfish, The Webb Brothers are well on track to saving pop for the people of the third millennium.
'Maroon' is out now on Mews 5/WEA.