Lionlimb - Tape Recorder

by Nathan Fidler Rating:5 Release Date:2018-02-23
Lionlimb - Tape Recorder
Lionlimb - Tape Recorder

Having produced what was probably the best debut album of 2016 with Shoo, Lionlimb return after just two years with the follow up Tape Recorder. Only six tracks long, it may look like they’re short changing fans, but three tracks stretch well over the six minute mark and none fall below 4 and half minutes.

Keep that fact in mind. Their first album had short, memorable songs - so what gives? Well, there is a definite turn in their approach to songwriting here. What you still have are the Elliott Smith vocals, drab but melodic in right ways. That’s it.

At times the sounds they carved out on their debut seem like they’re there. ‘Maria’ begins with thick piano chords and cold verses which bloom into something more striking. However, the songs drifts in an almost endless manner. There are baroque pop signals all over the place; clarinets, cellos and more are delicately arranged, but never in a way that is meaningful for the listener.

Title track ‘Tape Recorder’ is forlorn, and apparently based around the memory of having to produce cassettes for a friend in a coma when Stuart Bronaugh was younger. Once again, the artsy drive to produce something worthy of these memories becomes convoluted - there is nearly a full minute of alarming piano stabs and clarinet honking.

If you can give time to this album, it’s well worth it. This is by no means a poorly put together album, and given their mention of David Bowie as an influence last time out, it’s easy to see how his final album Blackstar might have been influential to the more “out there” moments.

To a casual listener, seeking the easy beauty and the grimy majesty of their first effort, this is a chore to listen to. Six songs don’t make an album just because you’ve stretched them out. It's hard to know how to feel on this basis, but ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity - both to do something the same or something different.

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