There are some false leads among the references that Little Racer have given concerning their influences. The Squeeze song title (“Black coffee in bed”) used in the description line of their Twitter account is fair enough maybe, but the Smashing Pumpkins lyric appearing similarly on their Bandcamp page (“Life’s a bummer when you’re a hummer”) isn’t exactly backed up by a musical kinship with Billy Corgan, though pumpkins do pop up in the lyrics of Modern Accent’s first track, “Fake French”: “When she was younger, she was a pumpkin/wearing black pants and dancing by the fireside.”
Furthermore, in a recent interview with Paper Magazine, the band – Singer/guitarist Elliot Michaud, guitarist Wade Michael, bassist Ish Nazmi, and drummer Dave Tedeschi – name-checked Rod Stewart. Then, perhaps with tongue firmly in cheek, Michaud claimed that “[there’s] a lot of Racer influences coming from Basia,” referring to the Polish smooth jazz-pop singer as “obscure,” though anyone old enough to remember 1987 probably has her biggest hit, “Time and Tide,” buried somewhere deep in the back of their memory. Regardless of how worn out the band’s copy of Time and Tide is, any such influence isn’t exactly apparent.
What is apparent is why Little Racer received early attention in the UK, culminating in the release of their first 7”, “Split for the Coast”/”This Town,” on London’s Young and Lost Club label in 2011. Though the band has gone through line-up changes since then, their unadorned but dreamy chime easily recalls early ‘80s UK indie, if also at times (most notably “Fake French”) a less delay-heavy take on the kind of guitar and bass interplay found in more contemporary corners like DIIV’s Oshin. “Ghostly,” the buoyant center of the EP, could sit on a mixtape alongside Primal Scream’s “It Happens” or early Orange Juice. “Fire Island,” meanwhile, reimagines the Beach Boys as moody C86 revivalists.
From “Fake French” to “Punk Life” (an anti-ode to living it up too much), the six songs on Modern Accent have hooks of studied simplicity. Such is the case with “Dancing,” an infectious invitation with an accompanying video that opens with shots of shoes dangling over telephones wires (and a young boy attempting to toss up a pair of ratty Converse), which back in the day indicated a corner where drugs were sold. Whether or not that’s the allusion, and it’s probably not, the twist is that, against backdrop of upbeat drumming and downbeat guitar lines, a line as old fashioned as “do you wanna go dancing/dancing in the streets” can sound almost subversive, a different take on what’s taken for granted.