Mancunian singer-songwriter Francis Lung returns with news of a new six-track EP, ‘Short Stories’ which is out via Memphis Industries on September 23. It’s the follow-up to his much-heralded 2021 album ‘Miracle,’ which found critical acclaim at MOJO, Uncut, Sunday Times, Guardian, Times, DIY, Line of Best Fit, Dork and more and was noted for being “a tour de force in melodicism” as witnessed on Francis’ BBC 6 Music-playlisted single, Bad Hair Day.
The first nibble from the ‘Short Stories’ EP is 2p Machine – out now with a video directed by animator, Emily Garner aka Pastel Castle – which demonstrates similar songwriting flair whilst at the same time pivoting to a more narrative style with a distinct Northern English sensibility. The spoken-word approach explored by Francis with 2p Machine edges throughout the rest of the EP too which addresses tragedy and vulnerability through a humorous, Mancunian lens. Watch the video clip for 2p Machine via YouTube below.
The past year has seen two significant life changes for the former WU LYF member – a move to France, specifically Nantes – with wife and collaborator, Coralie and the birth of their daughter. Both had a big impact on the songs that appear on ‘Short Stories,’ as Francis explains:
“Those first months following the birth of my daughter were a daze – the days were joyful, but the nights were long. Once I’m up, I’m up, and I could never get back to sleep after feeding or changing the baby. In my semi-delirious state, I would lie awake in bed making up stories in my head to pass the time. 2p Machine was the first of these, which originated from memories of being a kid on holiday in the arcades on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.”
The narrative of 2p Machine follows ‘Sasha’, a young Stevie Nicks fan with a penchant for gambling away her pocket money on the arcade machines. But her goal of winning as many ‘blood-red tokens’ as possible isn’t driven by a desire to swap them for toys at the ticket exchange, it is instead part of a naïve plan to try and buy the un-buyable – a friend. “It’s a story about alienation and how our imaginations have the power to save us from loneliness, at least temporarily,” Francis says, ”The arc of this tragicomedy, in which the protagonist utilises fantasy to try and escape harsh reality, is indicative of the tone on the rest of Short Stories.”
‘Short Stories’ was written, mixed and produced by Francis, a first for him, in Studio Velour, his spare bedroom studio following his move to Nantes. Like on ‘Miracle,’ Francis played all of the instruments himself, save for some drumming contributions by longtime collaborator Andrew Richardson. The move to France gave him a new perspective on, and certain reverence towards, life back in Manchester, which made its way into his songwriting. The accent, the dark sense of humour, the matter-of-factness and the general mood of the songs on ‘Short Stories’ are evidence of this. Says Francis, “it’s a celebration of where I come from but it’s also taking the piss. This in itself is a pretty Mancunian outlook I think.”
‘Short Stories’ track list
1. Midland Hotel II – The Restaurant
2. Due Date
3. 2p Machine
4. Midland Hotel I – Anne’s List
5. Shadow Shyness
6. Midland Hotel III – Graffiti
You can pre-order ‘Short Stories’ here