Ellie Goulding: ‘I knew we were going to get married. Weird feeling’

Undeniably glamorous 

Pop superstar Ellie Goulding speaks for the first time about the relationship that took her by surprise and why her husband is the one man she won’t write a song about   

Ellie Goulding is surrounded by boxes. A lot of them. She describes it as ‘a warehouse amount’ because her record company has just sent her ‘not joking – about 20,000’ bits of merchandise to sign to promote her new album.

The problem is, she’s currently spending lockdown in a cottage in Oxfordshire with cat Wallace and her husband Caspar Jopling, who was studying for his MBA at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School until the global pandemic ensured all the courses went online only. The cottage is too small to contain all the boxes, so Ellie is in the process of returning them to the record label, who will then send them back to her in more manageable batches.

‘I mean, I’m going to be getting, like, what’s it called?’

Repetitive strain injury?

‘Yeah!’

These are the occupational hazards of being a globally successful pop star in lockdown; the woman behind a dazzling array of hit songs including ‘Starry Eyed’, ‘Love Me Like You Do’ and a cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, which she sang at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding reception.

Today, when we meet over Zoom, things are more low-key. Ellie, 33, is wearing an oversized hoodie, her hands wrapped around a giant mug of green tea. But like all the best off-duty stars, she is still undeniably glamorous with her long blonde hair, bee-stung lips and the cat-like brown eyes that make her look like a gorgeous female version of Elvis Presley.

Her keenly anticipated fourth album, Brightest Blue, is about to be released,

a month later than originally scheduled because of Covid-19. Releasing it in these conditions is ‘bittersweet’. On the one hand, she wants to be able to get out there and ‘show the world this album that I’m very proud of’. On the other, she acknowledges that ‘it’s not so bad being at home. Sitting having some tea. Chatting on Zoom.’

Clockwise from above left: Ellie and Jorja Smith at the Brit Awards in February; on stage last year in California; meeting the Queen at a reception for young people in the performing arts, 2011; a guest appearance on The Voice with Olly Murs; Ellie met her future husband at a party organised by their mutual friend Princess Eugenie; with ‘my lovely sister’ Jordan, and mum Tracey

Clockwise from above left: Ellie and Jorja Smith at the Brit Awards in February; on stage last year in California; meeting the Queen at a reception for young people in the performing arts, 2011; a guest appearance on The Voice with Olly Murs; Ellie met her future husband at a party organised by their mutual friend Princess Eugenie; with ‘my lovely sister’ Jordan, and mum Tracey

Brightest Blue is her first album after a five-year gap, during which she met her now husband, the Eton and Harvard-educated son of an aristocratic Yorkshire landowner and the nephew of art dealer Jay Jopling. The couple got married at a star-studded wedding at York Minster last August, attended by everyone from the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson to the actress Sienna Miller and singer Katy Perry.

There are no songs on the new album about Caspar, partly because, Ellie says, the first year of marriage has been ‘love hearts and butterflies and bliss… It just hasn’t struck me as something that I want to focus my writing on.’ And it is true that many of the tracks on Brightest Blue seem to have sprung from darker places of inspiration: ‘Power’ is about a woman disillusioned by the lies and embellishments of dating in an age of social media; ‘Hate Me’ delves into the angry desire to erase an ex from your life.

‘I may analyse [my marriage] at some point,’ she says. ‘But no, it was one of those things where it was a different level of sacredness. I write about [past] relationships – and still do – and it doesn’t bother Caspar whatsoever, but I explore these things because they’re valid, and they happened in my life and they’re things that made me who I am. So I think it would be wrong to get married and then think that you have to completely close your past away. He accepts that.’

The pair met in 2016 after they were seated next to each other at a dinner arranged by their mutual friend, Princess Eugenie. At the time, Ellie was determinedly single and enjoying her independence after years of what she describes as ‘serial monogamy’. She had taken a break from the relentless pace of the music industry and was stepping back from the pressures of fame and from the exhausting public act of Being Ellie Goulding. ‘I think a common misconception with me, and maybe with other performers, too, is that we’re confident and that we’re super “out there”,’ she says. ‘But it is terrifying for me to go into a group of people and I think that’s always been the case. When I look back at even being at school and college I am just a shy person. I don’t have a huge amount of confidence. 

‘It is funny seeing myself on stage – when I have to watch myself back – you know, how I sort of take on this confident role as a performer. But as soon as I’m off stage, that’s gone again. I didn’t attend a single afterparty on my tour. And they were every night. I didn’t go to a single one. Too shy.’

Despite this shyness, Ellie has had to become used to her every move being closely scrutinised. Ever since her debut album, Lights, reached number one in the UK album charts on its release in 2010, her personal life has been the subject of intense media fascination. Her exes include One Direction’s Niall Horan, the Radio 1 presenter Greg James, the record producer Skrillex and Dougie Poynter, the bassist from McFly (she did not, as is popularly claimed, date either Ed Sheeran or Prince Harry).

But, she points out, ‘me and my friends had really similar dating patterns, you know? It’s just that obviously mine were a bit more in the public eye. I was made to feel as if it was unusual to have relationships until you find the right one [but] it’s just part of being young and learning about yourself and evolving. Sometimes it requires other people to come into your life to make it so. But then when I met Caspar, I was just at this really independent phase of my life and I was like, “Goddammit!” because I was in such a strong place and then this guy comes along and I realised after about six months, “Ah, s**t – time to get married!” I knew we were going to get married. Weird feeling. Yeah.’

She is laughing as she says this, poking fun at her own reaction. Does she feel she was treated differently in the media from her male contemporaries? Her eyes light up.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt,’ she says with an alacrity that suggests she has been waiting for someone to ask her this very question. ‘Male musicians can get away with so much more than women… I felt like it was OK for a guy to go from relationship to relationship or from girl to girl without really being judged too much. With me, there were several articles that began, “So and so’s fling, Ellie Goulding.” I became the secondary thing, even though I was consistently a successful musician and I worked hard, I didn’t mess around. I didn’t make a career out of drama, out of publicity, out of hype, I just made it out of the music. I was killing it! I was touring and I was performing – every single night. I worked hard and that was my job, I saw it as my job, something that I was passionate about. But at the same time it still felt like relationships I was in seemed to take precedence over my success, over my talent. That was slightly confusing to me, and still is, really.’

I can see why. There is no doubting Ellie Goulding’s success. She has built up an estimated fortune of £20 million and has won so many awards that they warrant their own Wikipedia page. She is that rare thing: a commercially successful artist who also garners substantial critical acclaim. And she has done it all through sheer hard graft.

Her childhood could not have been more different from the exalted social circles she now finds herself mixing in. She was born Elena Goulding in Lyonshall, Herefordshire, the second eldest of four. Her mother Tracey was an art student who dropped out of college when she became pregnant with her eldest child. Her father Arthur was an undertaker and part-time musician who left when Ellie was five. Her mother later remarried and, for years, Ellie was estranged from her dad, although they reconciled before her wedding and he walked her down the aisle.

‘I did any waitress job I could find. I worked at an old people’s home. I had three jobs while in college’

‘I did any waitress job I could find. I worked at an old people’s home. I had three jobs while in college’

‘I suppose part of being in relationships consistently [in her 20s] was because I just always was like, “I need someone, I need someone!” And you feel as though you can’t exist without someone, which is just madness.

I put that down to my dad not necessarily being around, and needing that comfort,’ she says with brutal honesty.

Ellie’s formative years were spent not knowing when the electricity would cut out, taking caravan holidays in Tenby and attending the local state school. She was a straight-A student (her favourite authors are Sebastian Faulks and Haruki Murakami) but she never felt part of the ‘cool gang’ and was bullied. She failed her music A-level: ‘I didn’t show up [to the exam] because a girl was bullying me. It was not something that I could emotionally handle because I think the only way to deal with someone like that was to be even meaner than they were. And that was just not in my make-up. So instead I simply stopped going to college.’

She refers to her teenage years as ‘chaotic’. She shared a bedroom with her two sisters – ‘it was quite challenging’ – and then left home at 16 to move in with a boyfriend. ‘I was doing every waitress job I could find. Then I was working at an old people’s home. I had three jobs while in college.’ She also started writing songs and playing guitar and found that she was able ‘to write down my emotions. I was very angsty. People used to call me a goth because I dyed my hair black and I had my lip pierced. It was a teenage thing where you’re suddenly finding out about yourself.’

She changed the way she wrote – from left-handed to right-handed – and the way she spoke, dropping her natural Herefordshire accent in favour of the people she saw on TV. ‘I listened to newsreaders and period dramas and I was like, “Why don’t I talk like that?” But I must say I do regret that now. I don’t know why I did that.’

To me, it sounds like a young woman aspiring to better things, driven to reinvent herself without much guidance other than her own instincts, and it’s simultaneously impressive and rather heart-rending to think that, as an adolescent, she never felt good enough as herself. Later, she went to the University of Kent to study drama – the first in her family to go on to higher education. It was there that she was spotted performing by a music manager who signed her at the age of 19 and got her a record deal. After that, Elena became Ellie and a modern-day pop star was born.

Before meeting her, I hadn’t fully appreciated the rapidity of her ascent or the level of dedication and work it must have taken to get to where she is. She has spoken in the past about her struggles with anxiety and body image and the fact that she found solace in regular exercise and eating healthily. She runs, boxes and does yoga. In the past, she has been a vegan but these days she’s more interested in bio-hacking (the practice of using technology and diet to boost physical and cognitive performance) and has reintroduced some dairy. Caspar, by contrast, was raised in a farming family, and is an unapologetic meat-eater.

I wonder how much of Ellie’s exercise and dietary regime stems from a desire to impose some sort of order on her life. Having experienced the chaos of not being in control as a youngster, then pitched into a world of endless touring and performing at the behest of management teams, is it important to her to control what she can?

‘Yeah! My god! I mean, isn’t it for everyone?

I have to have such a huge amount of control in my normal life because my songwriting and my performing are so the opposite… When I’m in the studio I have to let myself go and completely lose control to get to a place where I can write honestly and truthfully and access something that I don’t when I’m just in the zone of training or… I don’t know, making some kind of mad smoothie or something.

Ellie and Caspar married at York Minster last August

Ellie and Caspar married at York Minster last August

‘I have to constantly go from “crazy person writing songs and performing on stage” to having to keep this control. I find training to be such a core, integral part of my life – keeping fit and healthy and strong, both mentally and physically.’

Exercise, for her, ‘is not just about being physically strong. I mean, it literally lifts your mood, you know? It releases endorphins. You never regret a workout.’

Love, in the end, was also beyond Ellie’s control. She never planned to meet Caspar but, when she did, ‘part of the urge I had that I was going to marry this person was because, for the first time ever, I felt like there was someone that was supporting my happiness rather than being my happiness.’

I’m intrigued to hear what future songs she will write from this place of contentment and stability. For now, there are 20,000 bits of merchandise to sign. Although she did once teach herself to write with her right hand as opposed to her left, ‘sadly, I can’t write with both at the same time otherwise I’d sign these a lot quicker, wouldn’t I?’

Give her a few years. I’m pretty sure that Ellie Goulding could achieve anything she sets her mind to.

Ellie Goulding’s new album Brightest Blue will be released on 17 July. For tickets to her UK tour in April and May 2021, visit livenation.co.uk  

 

  • Photographer – Louis Browne WMA Agency @Louis_browne
  • All clothes, shoes and jewellery by Gucci @gucci
  • Make Up – Lucy Wearing @lucylovebird
  • Hair – Anastasia Stylianou The Only.Agency @anastasiastylianou
  • Location courtesy of Adot.com @adotdotcom for charity event M2M @mothers2mothers

 

 

The house of fun | Daily Mail Online

From a living room trapeze to thinking pink (a lot), the home of interiors blogger Emily Murray is full of playful ideas to steal. Here’s how…

The Family

Emily is the author of interiors book Pink House Living and lives in Forest Hill, Southeast London, with her husband Euan and sons Oscar, ten, and Zac, seven. @pinkhouseliving

Keep it playful 

It’s not often you come across a house with a trapeze in the living room (more on that later) and a storage unit that doubles as a climbing frame in the hall. ‘Play is important to me,’ explains Emily, ‘and I wanted to incorporate it into the house design.’ The multilevel cushioned unit was designed by loudarchitects.com. ‘It gives me a feeling of pure, in-the-moment joy,’ she says

Small tweak… big wow 

‘One small change can transform a space,’ enthuses Emily. Take the kitchen cupboards. When she and Euan moved in, ‘they were painted in this glossy teal shade that I hated,’ she says. Her instant update? Gold pull handles from busterandpunch.co.uk. ‘They instantly felt more rock and roll. We then designed the rest of the kitchen around the cupboards and, after adding the uplifting green chevron tiles from bertandmay.com, the room suddenly looked modern’

‘One small change can transform a space,’ enthuses Emily. Take the kitchen cupboards. When she and Euan moved in, ‘they were painted in this glossy teal shade that I hated,’ she says. Her instant update? Gold pull handles from busterandpunch.co.uk. ‘They instantly felt more rock and roll. We then designed the rest of the kitchen around the cupboards and, after adding the uplifting green chevron tiles from bertandmay.com, the room suddenly looked modern’

Need inspo? check out your closet

When you can’t decide on a decorating scheme, ‘consider what’s in your wardrobe’, suggests Emily. ‘I wanted my home to feel like a sanctuary, so feeling comfortable was key. If you’re at ease wearing something, you’ll probably be comfortable living with it. I turned to my wardrobe for ideas and mirrored what I saw in my home style.’ Emily’s wardrobe boasts a plethora of pink, so naturally the hero shade in her home is Pink House Pink (mylands.com). Meanwhile, her hallway is awash with many of the gelato tones she likes to wear, and the maximalist floor tiles, much like her favoured print T-shirts, add wow. The encaustic floor tiles are from ottotiles.co.uk

When you can’t decide on a decorating scheme, ‘consider what’s in your wardrobe’, suggests Emily. ‘I wanted my home to feel like a sanctuary, so feeling comfortable was key. If you’re at ease wearing something, you’ll probably be comfortable living with it. I turned to my wardrobe for ideas and mirrored what I saw in my home style.’ Emily’s wardrobe boasts a plethora of pink, so naturally the hero shade in her home is Pink House Pink (mylands.com). Meanwhile, her hallway is awash with many of the gelato tones she likes to wear, and the maximalist floor tiles, much like her favoured print T-shirts, add wow. The encaustic floor tiles are from ottotiles.co.uk

Find the right balance

Emily’s kitchen mixes bold colour with pattern. ‘I dislike cooking so I didn’t want the room to look like a typical kitchen,’ she explains. This wallpaper in the dining area (Malin by sandbergwallpaper.com) makes a striking contrast to the chevron tiles by the kitchen units (see previous page). ‘I wanted to combine the energy of London with relaxing countryside colours,’ she says. Giving the ground floor more light was important too, so she and Euan removed some of the rooms to create a bigger hallway and added internal windows. Of course, no room in the house would be complete without some fun – for a similar hanging chair, try coxandcox.co.uk

Emily’s kitchen mixes bold colour with pattern. ‘I dislike cooking so I didn’t want the room to look like a typical kitchen,’ she explains. This wallpaper in the dining area (Malin by sandbergwallpaper.com) makes a striking contrast to the chevron tiles by the kitchen units (see previous page). ‘I wanted to combine the energy of London with relaxing countryside colours,’ she says. Giving the ground floor more light was important too, so she and Euan removed some of the rooms to create a bigger hallway and added internal windows. Of course, no room in the house would be complete without some fun – for a similar hanging chair, try coxandcox.co.uk

Don’t rush to renovate

Emily firmly believes that a room – once you have the walls and flooring decided – should evolve gradually. ‘You need to live in a space to understand how it works,’ she says. For example, lighting can change the look of an area throughout the day, so will play a vital role in choosing where to position the home office or the sofa. Another case in point is former gymnast Emily’s trapeze in the living room, from firetoys.co.uk. ‘We have been living here for three years and have only just decided to have it installed here. Now that the kids are older, this is where we spend the most time as a family, so it made sense. Have patience,’ she adds, ‘and those eureka moments will come to you’

Emily firmly believes that a room – once you have the walls and flooring decided – should evolve gradually. ‘You need to live in a space to understand how it works,’ she says. For example, lighting can change the look of an area throughout the day, so will play a vital role in choosing where to position the home office or the sofa. Another case in point is former gymnast Emily’s trapeze in the living room, from firetoys.co.uk. ‘We have been living here for three years and have only just decided to have it installed here. Now that the kids are older, this is where we spend the most time as a family, so it made sense. Have patience,’ she adds, ‘and those eureka moments will come to you’

Pump up the pink 

‘Pink isn’t just for girls,’ says Emily. The joyous shade filters through each space of her home, but none so much as the newly converted shower room. The real showstopper is the backdrop, covered in a waterproof plaster paint from chrysalissurface.co.uk, which bathes the room in a warm rosy glow. ‘It’s such a versatile colour,’ says Emily. ‘It goes with just about anything.’ The brass fittings are from perrinandrowe.co.uk

‘Pink isn’t just for girls,’ says Emily. The joyous shade filters through each space of her home, but none so much as the newly converted shower room. The real showstopper is the backdrop, covered in a waterproof plaster paint from chrysalissurface.co.uk, which bathes the room in a warm rosy glow. ‘It’s such a versatile colour,’ says Emily. ‘It goes with just about anything.’ The brass fittings are from perrinandrowe.co.uk

If in doubt, accessorise 

If you are limited by indecision – or renting – transform your space with accessories. ‘Statement soft furnishings or wall decorations are a great way of adding personality to a room,’ says Emily. In her bedroom an upholstered studded bed and lightning-bolt wall lights (from bagandbones.co.uk) create a focal point while decorative cushions add depth to the scheme. The bed is from hypnosbeds.com and upholstered in pink linen. For a similar fabric, try romo.com

If you are limited by indecision – or renting – transform your space with accessories. ‘Statement soft furnishings or wall decorations are a great way of adding personality to a room,’ says Emily. In her bedroom an upholstered studded bed and lightning-bolt wall lights (from bagandbones.co.uk) create a focal point while decorative cushions add depth to the scheme. The bed is from hypnosbeds.com and upholstered in pink linen. For a similar fabric, try romo.com

Floor lamp, £129, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk, Woven basket, £16, laredoute.co.uk, Rug (160cm x 230cm), £199, laredoute.co.uk, Tile, £4, bertandmay.com, Sofa, £1,949, swooneditions.com, Bar tool set, £25.99, wayfair.co.uk

Floor lamp, £129, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk, Woven basket, £16, laredoute.co.uk, Rug (160cm x 230cm), £199, laredoute.co.uk, Tile, £4, bertandmay.com, Sofa, £1,949, swooneditions.com, Bar tool set, £25.99, wayfair.co.uk

Print, £150, printclublondon.com, Cushion, £95, silkenfavours.com, Cushion, £109, amara.com, Brass stool, £195, iamfy.co, Lamp, £59, made.com, Champagne flutes, £45 for four, heals.com, Love seat, £625, oliverbonas.com, Side table set, £229, swooneditions.com

Print, £150, printclublondon.com, Cushion, £95, silkenfavours.com, Cushion, £109, amara.com, Brass stool, £195, iamfy.co, Lamp, £59, made.com, Champagne flutes, £45 for four, heals.com, Love seat, £625, oliverbonas.com, Side table set, £229, swooneditions.com

Beauty: My summer glow must-haves

Beauty: My summer glow must-haves

It’s not like a self-tan, more a dusting of sunbeam

Trust me, you’re going to love these complexion boosters and highlighters as much as I do  

I’m always careful on these pages to write about products – both new and old – that I think really deserve your attention. But among these I have my own ultimate favourites and the new Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer in Golden (£92, victoriabeckhambeauty.com) is one of them. Yes, it’s a ridiculously long name, but it’s also a remarkably great product. Whether or not you’re already a fan of the Augustinus Bader skincare line, all of Victoria Beckham’s skincare has been created in partnership with him. This hybrid work of fabulousness is a tinted version of her very lightweight moisturiser and really is the business.

Not only does it leave skin feeling hydrated, plumped and generally a bit peach-like but the tint is perfect for giving a hint of glowiness – not like a self-tan, more a dusting of sunbeam. It comes in her signature faux tortoiseshell packaging which is arguably the most chic in the business. And although it’s at the pricier end of things, it’s one of those products I now never want to be without. Use it alone or as a great dewy base for make-up. On a simple skincare front, Dr Sam’s new Flawless Brightly Serum (£44, drsambunting.com) is great for complexion freshening. It’s formulated to work on everything from improving uneven skin tone to boosting collagen and clearing pores to leave skin fresher and happier.

Vitamin C is always a great glow booster and Sanctuary Spa Vitamin C 20% Daily Glow Serum (£16.50, boots.com) is good stuff. This is a high percentage and suspended in silicone so it feels smooth, not grainy. I haven’t had any issues with pilling because of that silicone but I mention its presence because I know some people do not like it at all.

Make-up-wise, the new RMS Living Glow Face & Body Powder (£37, spacenk.com) is another favourite. It might look very metallic in the pot but once it’s applied it just gives a wonderful golden hue to everything it touches and works brilliantly as a highlighter.

I love it on cheekbones and also dusted on shoulders for a bit of summertime glamour. And please don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old for this. I’ve seen RMS founder Rose-Marie Swift, who’s 65, wearing it and she looked marvellous.

Her RMS Kakadu Evening Beauty Elixir (£40, spacenk.com) is a lovely night-time oil for a hydration and radiance boost.

But Rose-Marie also showed me a trick with it: if you feel you’ve applied too much highlighter take a small amount of oil, apply it on top of the powder and it will tone down the excess. Of course, you could always use a different brand, but her Kakadu is such a treat.

Scents of adventure 

Oh to be on Mykonos now that summer’s here… But whoever does not wake on a Greek island can take comfort in the theme currently running through beauty. In a very location-specific move, Heinrich Barth, the Turin-based brand named after a 19th-century explorer, offers N°07 Mykonos Skin Softening Body Cleanser (£13, wolfandbadger.com) inspired by the idyllic isle. Its delectable fragrance is made up of the kind of notes you might expect: fig alongside olive trees, rosemary and wild herbs.

Although its products are made in England, Von Norten is channelling similar aromas with the Black Candle Collection. Its Mediterranean offering is inspired by the southern Aegean island of Santorini and is a more simple blend of fig and green olive (£43, vonnorten.com).

Greek brand Kéăp (or Kear) has the tag line ‘Ancient Greek skincare reborn’ and offers products such as an Antioxidant Face Balm (around £42, kearlife.com) made from beeswax and super-fruit hippophae (sea-buckthorn berry) oil. I like the Mastic Herbal Soap (around £4.50, kearlife.com) containing essential oil from chios mastic (a resin derived from a Greek tree), which smells wonderful and can be used as a body or face cleanser.

From Julie’s Library to Doing It Right & Scarlett Moffatt Wants To Believe: This week’s top podcasts

From Julie Andrews’ new podcast, Julie’s Library to This American Life, Doing It Right & Scarlett Moffatt Wants To Believe, this week’s top podcasts

Julie’s Library

I could listen to Julie Andrews read the side of a packet of Pringles. In her new podcast, she settles down with her daughter Emma to read their favourite children’s books. 

In Julie Andrews’ new podcast, she settles down with her daughter Emma to read their favourite children’s books; it’s made intelligently enough to be endurable for grown-ups too

The podcast is very much for kids but it’s made intelligently enough to be endurable for grown-ups too. The stories are laced with sound effects that elevate proceedings to something quite immersive.

 

This American Life

This is the grandfather of podcasts – its team made the hit show Serial, and the verbal tics of its host, Ira Glass, have become embedded in podcasts across the globe. I’ve recently tuned back in and am pleased to report the show is still top-notch. Episodes are arranged around quirky stories of American life. Start with ‘The Reprieve’, which plunges listeners into an intensive care unit in Michigan.

 

Scarlett Moffatt Wants To Believe

Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt is a sucker for conspiracy theories. In her joyful new BBC podcast, she attempts to persuade her sceptical ‘boyf’ and ‘bestie’, Scott, that the bizarre things she believes are rooted in fact. 

Scarlett Moffatt is a sucker for conspiracy theories. In her joyful new podcast, she attempts to persuade her sceptical boyf, Scott, that the bizarre things she believes are rooted in fact

Scarlett Moffatt is a sucker for conspiracy theories. In her joyful new podcast, she attempts to persuade her sceptical boyf, Scott, that the bizarre things she believes are rooted in fact

Boyfriend-girlfriend podcasts mostly set my teeth on edge, but this one is charming. A good starting point is the show about the Loch Ness monster.

 

Doing It Right

Journalist Pandora Sykes is one half of the couple behind hit podcast The High Low. Now she has a new series by herself about the ‘trivialities, myths and anxieties’ of modern life. Episodes are weekly, 40 minutes long, and dig into questions Sykes has been asking herself after years of writing about women, capitalism and popular culture. The first episode is with comedian Joe Lycett.

The Pretenders album review: Chrissie Hynde still sings like a dream

Chrissie Hynde still sings like a dream: After half an hour Hate For Sale is all over, leaving you with a powerful urge to see The Pretenders live

The Pretenders                                  Hate For Sale                                 Out Friday

Rating:

There’s a puzzle about The Pretenders. Why are they not as big as they used to be? In a lockdown sort-out way, I came across a ticket for their show at Wembley Arena in 1987. 

If Chrissie Hynde and co get to Wembley now, they are the support act, as when Fleetwood Mac played the stadium last year.

The Pretenders seem to be seen as a period piece. The radio stations that still rate them are the ones that play oldies. On Spotify, their five most popular tracks are all 25 to 40 years old.

Chrissie Hynde (above), who will be 70 next year, still sings like a dream, coolly exuding both strength and sensitivity

Chrissie Hynde (above), who will be 70 next year, still sings like a dream, coolly exuding both strength and sensitivity

You might deduce that Hynde’s songwriting is not what it once was. But then you play Hate For Sale and find that it’s exactly what it once was. The sound remains the same – a jangle with a swagger attached. 

It has the classic virtue of being distinctive and also adaptable.

The first song here, the title track, is a pile-driving tribute to the punks who preceded The Pretenders. The second is snappy new-wave pop-rock, perhaps inspired by their own classic debut album. 

The third is reggae, reminiscent of Grace Jones. The fourth is galloping glam rock with a quirky title (Turf Accountant Daddy, rhyming with Cincinnati). The fifth is a sumptuous soul ballad.

As vehicles for a voice, these tracks are top of the range. Hynde, who will be 70 next year, still sings like a dream, coolly exuding both strength and sensitivity. The Brits should consider her for their Outstanding Contribution To Music award.

In the band, as usual, the men come and go. This time the original drummer, Martin Chambers, is back, bringing swing, while Hynde co-writes with her guitarist, James Walbourne, who brings a touch of class from his day job with the folk-rock duo The Rails.

After half an hour the album is all over, leaving you with a powerful urge to see The Pretenders live. Maybe even at Wembley Arena.