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Landshapes - Rambutan (Album Review)

Monday, 17 June 2013 Written by Ben Bland

Hands up if you remember Lulu and the Lampshades? Anyone? In essence, Landshapes used to be Lulu and the Lampshades, but after a spelling error on a French gig poster, they’re not anymore.

‘Rambutan’, perhaps surprisingly after all the kerfuffle about the band’s name, is actually a rather pleasant affair. Taking a heavy dash of early Floydian psychedelia (it’s the done thing nowadays) and mixing it with a touch of shoegaze, Landshapes have crafted a highly listenable record. In fact, at points it is almost Yo La Tengo-esque in its determination to blend colourful, slightly obtuse musicianship with pop songwriting. High praise indeed. 

Racehorse kicks the album off with some eerie ambience, because that’s also quite a fashionable thing to do at the moment, before it dissolves into a proper song, but it doesn’t quite prepare the listener for the excellent In Limbo.

Propelled along by one of the most memorable guitar riffs in recent memory, this is where Landshapes really announce their arrival. It’s perfect summery pop music, but it also has enough about it to really stand out by virtue of stop-start dynamics and some unexpected, almost mathy guitar that turns up halfway through.

Keeping the listener engaged with a record is, of course, a crucial element and this is what Landshapes prove themselves enormously capable of on ‘Rambutan’. A few tracks meander on too long for their own good but there’s no denying that the band have taken a brave approach here by refusing to surrender fully to one shade of their musical spectrum.

Portishead-aping slow burners in the shape of Threads and Night So Strong sit comfortably alongside the more upbeat tracks and the whole thing comes together delightfully considering its status as a debut album.

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