Some regular readers will no doubt think ‘oh, here he goes again, banging on about the Lottery Winners again’ but hear me out on this one. This is about so much more than a favourite band and a few favourite songs. So much more…
For those of you who may not be aware, The Lottery Winners are an indie-pop band from Leigh, Lancashire. The term ‘the hardest working band in showbusiness’ is overused but it genuinely does seem to apply to these guys. They’ve been around for over 10 years, released their magnificent third ‘full’ album on Friday (more on that later), and deserve to be huge. They really appeal to me for a number of reasons. Fundamentally, they’re good, decent, northern folk – something I’m always drawn to in people. There are no egos here, despite the image Thom (the singer) projects at times, though all the fans know that’s an exaggerated rock start persona rather than the ‘true’ Thom, and it’s part of the reason we all love him. They have time for their fans and always will, no matter how big they become. We just know that is the case – fame won’t change these guys. There’s also a hint of the underdog about them, perfectly illustrated in their bid to have a number one album this week. They’re up against some prominent new releases – releases from artists who have the backing to secure primetime TV slots and significant promotional campaigns. The Lottery Winners don’t have this and therefore need to think of different ways to achieve their dream. They’ve worked like dogs to create many different formats of the album. They’ve recorded the full album acoustically and released it. They’ve released a version featuring live tracks from their iconic Manchester Albert Hall gig last December. They’ve opened a pop-up shop in Leigh for a week to bolster sales (and will be there in person on Monday 1st May to perform, sign, and mingle with the fans). They’re not averse to hard graft and putting in the hours to achieve their dreams. I’ve always loved an underdog story, none more than this one.
You may be reading this thinking ‘that’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with the core theme of this blog?’ Well, remembering that the reason I started YYCDI was to highlight ‘everyday’ mental health issues and what I’m doing to fight that and live life to the fullest, the band, quite simply, bring me great joy and can lift me during down days. I’ve loved all their albums but the new one – ART (Anxiety Replacement Therapy) – is a masterpiece. It’s full of the instant classics which burrow their way into your brain and never leave, but us fans knew that would be the caser anyway. The band are supremely talented and are masters at creating catchy hooks and melodies which keep you singing and humming all day long. For evidence of this, take a look at the videos for Money ( link here ), featuring the legend that is Shaun Ryder, and Let Me Down ( link here ), featuring another bona fide music legend in Boy George. The video to the latter is an absolute joy too – you’ll know why when you watch it.
However, in addition to all that, the album is also deeply personal – certainly their most personal to date. It’d definitely a concept album, though there’s a stigma attached to that phrase which immediately makes me think of long and boring albums released by 70s prog-rock bands, so I won’t use the term again, though it certainly applies here. The album documents a difficult recent period for Thom and the songs reflect the highs and lows of his life. Thom has always been open and honest and the 10 songs here (plus 3 additional spoken-word interludes) reflect the difficulty of living with anxiety and ADHD. This is an outpouring of emotion the likes of which I’ve never heard in an album before. Songs such as Worry, Long Way Down, Sertraline, and Jennie are searingly honest and cut right to the bone. This may be difficult subject matter but such is Thom’s immense capability as a songwriter, he wraps up the core themes in immensely listenable songs. A standout track for me is Letter To Myself ( link here ), featuring the behemoth of British music that is Frank Turner. Surely all of us would pen a letter to the teenage version of ourselves if we had the chance, wouldn’t we? That’s exactly what Thom has done here. It’s joyous, uplifting, life-affirming and has a chorus that just begs to be screamed out by a couple of thousand people pogoing around at a gig. Yet again, the video is an absolute joy too.
You see, that’s what the very best music does and it’s what the very best musicians do. More than just knocking out a catchy song or two, it makes us deeply feel emotion. At times, such as with this album, music holds up a mirror to our own lives. It reminds us there are others out there like us. It reminds us we’re not alone in our struggles. Speaking of which, I must share these lyrics from the song You’re Not Alone, from the album:
We all feel highs and we all feel lows.
We all feel pride and we all feel blows.
Through tears of joy and tears of pain.
From sunny days to winter rain.
We live and love and laugh and cry.
The price we pay to be alive.
No two hearts ever be alike.
There’s no such thing as normal…
That’s profound for me. Simple words which resonate and mean so much. With music, we’re never alone. There are times when we may feel we’re the only one going through the ups and downs of life; the only one fighting many different battles; the only one with mental health issues (whether severe or ‘everyday’ issues), but we’re not. This album perfectly demonstrates that. The tribe of wonderful people who passionately follow the band perfectly demonstrate that. The number of conversations I’ve had with friends over the years regarding the healing power of music demonstrate that. Since starting this blog in 2019, I’ve become aware that many people suffer with ‘everyday’ mental health issues. Suffer with anxiety. Suffer low self-esteem. Suffer a lack of confidence. Suffer imposter syndrome. In fact, I strongly believe that most people suffer from at least one of these issues. This album absolutely confirms that viewpoint for me.
So, thank-you Thom, Katie, Joe & Rob, for making my life better. People appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. To all other readers here – check out their music. In that quintessentially British way, put the kettle on, make a brew, sit back and listen to it in it’s entirety, from start to finish – no shuffles please. It’s a much more rewarding listening experience that way. If you like what you hear, perhaps even buy a copy or two over the next day or two. You might just get sucked into a new lifelong love you’ll be very thankful for. You might just help 4 thoroughly decent people from a working-class northern town achieve their dreams, land that elusive No.1 slot in the album charts, and see their career go stratospheric. God knows they really do deserve it.
This self-confessed bunch of idiots from little old Leigh might just achieve their dreams, and wouldn’t that be wonderful? I must admit, I don’t like it when Thom uses terminology such as that to describe the band (they’re certainly not idiots) though I do understand why he does it. Self-deprecating humour is the best, isn’t it? I know I use it all the time. There’s more than a hint of imposter syndrome in that description. You see, it nearly always comes back round to ‘everyday’ mental health issues, doesn’t it?
As always, thanks for reading and take care. If you do nothing else today, take a little time to seek out some music that means something to you and immerse yourself in it. Even better if it’s a few Lottery Winners tracks…