Intelligent pop that is devoid of filler, and highly deserving of your time.
This is an album, and band, that is well worth your time.
As the ‘end credits’ for both their albums will tell you (yes, they read out their own liner notes at the end of each album), ‘LUMP is a product of Mike Lindsay and Laura Marling’. The former is an acclaimed producer with admirable versatility and experimental tastes (he’s otherwise best known for his work with Tuung), while the latter is a Brit award-winning singer/songwriter with a successful solo career and an interest in psychoanalysis. The fruits of their collective labours is an outfit with two albums worth of music that reminds one of Broadcast – it’s music that lies just on the edge of accessibility, blending indie and folktronica.
If you heard LUMP’s self-titled debut, released back in 2018, then the sound of this sophomore effort won’t be too surprising – the songs segue into one another, the texture is a similar, eclectic blend of Mellotrons, flutes, synths and guitars. ‘Oberon’ is quiet and mournful in the same way as ‘Late To The Flight’ was three years before, and the lyrics throughout both albums seem to concern similar characters who have missed opportunities and are down on their luck.
The overall product, however, is just as enthralling – perhaps more so. After all, the previous album was arresting, but short, so you were left wanting more anyway. Animal, while slightly longer, feels however like less of a drag, with less time wasted. It also feels more extreme, with a couple of songs using unusual time signatures – ‘Gamma Ray’ is particularly odd to listen to, with a circumcised beat that stumbles and ends prematurely. But just as the music sounds more off-kilter than before, this album has some songs that deserve to be hits more than the lead singles for LUMP’s debut – I found previous single ‘Curse Of The Contemporary’ to be lacking and generic, but here the title track has everything you’d want from a pop song, and the melodies are incredibly strong and catchy. Then again, even that track has a fairly risqué breakdown where the drums slowly judder to a halt, rather than cutting out entirely. It really is intelligent music for the masses.
As ever, the distinctive LUMP sound, seeing no barriers between traditional rock or classical instrumentation and more modern production styles, is what draws you in – it sounds oddly Baroque, but also rather timeless. However, you stay because Lindsay and Marling are somehow able to draw something surreal and beautiful out of all their equipment – the melodic hooks are of a consistently high quality, whether they immediately hook you or take their time to draw you in.
The only downside is that it doesn’t lend itself well to background listening – I’m trying to write this review while listening to the music and I can’t concentrate. In my defence, Animal is a strong second album from a band that demands your attention, refusing to merely be present yet ignored. Plus, I am a bit tired.
LUMP’s Animal is available now on Chrysalis and Partisan Records. Watch the video for ‘Animal’ below: