As the final track will tell you, LUMP is the product of Mike Lindsay and Laura Marling. Laura Marling hardly needs an introduction, as one of the leading folk artists over the last 15 years. Mike Lindsay is best known for his role in the folktronica band Tunng, but has an impressive list of producer credits spanning pop, rock and R&B. Their co-creation is LUMP, which they characterise as both a mythical creature and a creative mindset that the pair invoke to create music together.
So, Animal; the talent of Laura as a writer and vocalist is evident throughout the album. Her vocals have a unique, instantly recognisable quality that work just as well in this more electronic setting as her usual acoustic folk. Similarly, Mike’s production quality is high. The music for each track (with the possible exception of Phantom Limb) is interesting to the ear, but without being jarring. Pairing those qualities is a tough thing to do. Contributing to this, some of the album is written in a 7/4 time signature – it gives it a sense of urgency, but never feels forced. The third single from the album, also titled Animal, is where this combination comes together best. The final single, We Cannot Resist, is another pleasing pop track (although slightly marred by the use of a gimmicky vocoder).
There is a lot to really like about the the album, which leaves me questioning why I like it but don’t love it. I think the answer lies in my favourite track on the album, Oberon. It is 2 minutes of beautiful, heartbreaking songwriting. The tenderness of the music and the lyrics feel perfectly in sync. This level of synchronicity feels within reach throughout the whole album, but the energies of singer and producer never align as well as they do there. This is illustrated by the final track Phantom Limbwhich immediately follows and seems to have been written in an intentionally discordant way. Maybe I just don’t get it, but it doesn’t land for me. That said, overall Animal is a really intriguing listen with a good number of really high quality tracks.
As a sidenote, I had the pleasure of listening to the Premiere of Animal at a Pitchblack Playback event – a blindfolded immersive album-listening experience – I highly recommend checking out their events if you are London or Auckland-based and see an event that piques your interest.
Whipping you back to 2010 for Jai Paul’s edit of Emiliana Torrini’s Jungle Drum. He takes the original and blesses it with his warm electronic goodness.
I have written about Jai Paul before, so let’s focus on Emiliana. She is a Icelandic singer-songwriter who specialises on wistful folk. If you are a fan of Bjork or Laura Marling then she is definitely worth checking out. You can pick up the same melancholic fisherman’s wife thread running through their work. Me & Armini is my pick, and is the third of her six albums.
All the way back to the 1998 Mercury Music Prize winner for this Sunday’s listen. Gomez are a 5-piece band hailing from Southport (the North West’s eleventh most populous settlement in the North West for those of you who were wondering). Their music sits somewhere between blues, indie and rock. Anyway, it’s a classic, and if you don’t know, then at least check out tracks #1 and #2. Classics.
The middle of a pandemic might not seem the best time to release a debut album, but Westerman’s Your Hero Is Not Dead feels like exactly the music we need right now. It’s full of uplifting, mesmerisingly beautiful songs that combine challenging and unusual textures with just the right amount of dopamine-inducing choruses to satisfy our simple animal brains. It’s an album that will leave you nodding in trance-like stupor one minute, curled up on the floor in the foetal position covered in snotty tears the next. Blue Comanche and Confirmation offer up sublimely accessible pop refrains, but the album is one that really deserves a full 40-minute sit-down listen. It’s raw and unflinchingly honest but fundamentally optimistic about the world; the best new music of 2020.
A bit of a change of pace here – something to nurse your Sunday heads. Meg Duffy’s Hand Habits was my most-played band of 2019; I’m slightly hooked on their particular brand of wistful folk . Lead singer Meg Duffy’s vocals waver in a fragile kind of way that draws emotion right to the surface. It’s beautiful, it’s calming and feels real. I hope you like.
Bonus album: placeholder is her second album, but the first, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), is just as nice. Enjoy.
There’s a lot more to say about Meg Duffy, but I don’t really feel qualified. If you want to read more about how her album is “staging queer stories against a wistful Americana backdrop” then read this Pitchfork review.