Like a Glaswegian version of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner’s Last Shadow Puppets, the Codeine Velvet Club project finds Jon Lawler of the Fratellis making retro-’60s supper-club pop with sweeping orchestral arrangements where the fuzzy guitars usually go. (Actually, he still gets in some fuzzy guitars.) The iPod-approved charms of the Fratellis’ “Flathead” aside, Lawler isn’t as sharp a songwriter as Turner in either melodies or lyrics, and that means that his material doesn’t benefit from the increased sonic clarity the way Turner’s does.
But because his partner in the band is a woman — sassed-out Scottish singer Lou Hickey — and because he recruited Mick Cooke of Belle and Sebastian to write the string and horn parts, Codeine Velvet Club conjures an appealing sense of spy-film romance. In “Like a Full Moon,” for instance, you can picture Hickey putting her album-cover head scarf to good use in the passenger seat of a vintage getaway car.