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LUMP - LUMP (Album Review)

Friday, 15 June 2018 Written by Helen Payne

Photo: Mathew Parri & Esteban Diacono

“LUMP is a product,” Laura Marling monotonously narrates on the closing credits of the new project. It’s a product that, in its brief 27 minutes, encompasses a fluffy dancing yeti, angelic vocals, airy synth melodies, thrashing, but always intricate, percussion, and a constant underlying drone to sew it all together. Marling and Mike Lindsay (of psych-folk bands Tunng and Throws), whom she met by chance at a Neil Young gig, utilise mutual respect for each other’s creativity to harness LUMP, which they look upon parentally.

Their debut is also one of the best things to be released so far this year. ‘LUMP’, named randomly by Marling’s six year old niece, is thoughtful, witty and surreal, criticising the contemporary world over massive dreamlike soundscapes formed by a bearded guy running havoc in a sweetshop of synths, and a tiny blonde human whose soothing soprano floats transcendentally to achieve something resembling an experimental-folk-pop-everything mush of songs that you can’t, and don’t want to, ever unhear.

Lead single Curse of the Contemporary is the big hitter, and could stand proudly alone if it weren’t for its entanglement in the rest of the album’s themes. “Keep your wits about you,” Marling warns the listener about life in California - a nod to her time there a few years ago, getting lost in her new LA lifestyle as an introverted escape from her fame at home. “When the day is done, we can’t believe what we’ve become.”

There is cutting cynicism reserved for the trappings of modernity on ‘LUMP’, with more snarling lyrics like “Money didn't buy you anything at all, ‘cept a ball for your chain” and the cry “Oh my, save your soul” on Hand Hold Hero. “It’s a sign of the times, you know,” Marling soars on May I Be the Light. The current climate - be it socially, politically, media-ly - is a burden and a curse, something exacerbated by having a public persona.

But there is the offer of escape. The entire sonic texture of the album feels like one long lucid dream. It’s sleepy in its drawled Moog sounds and breathy vocal harmonies. It’s warm and cosy too, with the familiar soothing sounds of Marling’s homely British accent - a remedy for the perils of the modern. Or, on a more morbid level, death.

Late To The Flight deals with the idea of dreaming of one’s own death, or the killing of a public persona, which harks back again to Marling’s Californian escape. It’s a huge, colossal opener of a track, that suits (as all these songs do) a setting grander than headphones. Imagine the opulence of LUMP’s textures and sonic experimentation on a massive scale, echoing off walls and bouncing around the room. It resonates better on the stage. This record is truly excellent, but LUMP is perhaps a product best served live.

'LUMP' is out now through Dead Oceans

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