Lump - Lump - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lump - Lump

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-06-01
Lump debut album
Lump debut album

I’m a recovering Uriah Heep fan. Things came to a Heepy head when, after purchasing the band’s Into the Wild album, I complanined bitterly to anyone who would listen that it sounded just like their last five records and was totally predictable. And, thankfully, good sense, and a few friends intervened when I contemplated ordering a Demons and Wizards wall clock (made from a used vinyl album) from Amazon. At my very first Heeps Anonymous meeting, I met a guy who actually had the cover art for Fallen Angel, the album with the cartooned woman warrior standing sword in hand, clothed in battle-ready armor, and, shamelessly, with one breast fully exposed, tattooed in full color on his back. The guy was in tears because when his new girlfriend saw the tat, she was really happy and thought he was a Janet Jackson fan.

Man, I thought I had problems.

Well, this Lump album sounds nothing like Uriah Heep, or for that matter, anybody from the Jackson family. It is predictable, but that word is a two-edged sword, like matter and anti-matter. Sure, Heep yawned out and pressed the replay button. But there’s something exciting in imagining, and yes, even predicting the combustion of various (much beloved) artists like Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay joining forces and making an album.

It’s a jazz thing.

What? Ornette Coleman with Dewey Redman, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones? I want to hear New York Is Now!

Or it could be a folk thing. June Tabor playing again with The Oysterband. And they cover Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”? That’s going to be great.

And a confession: I’m a huge fan of Laura Marling’s folk records, and I seriously enjoy the weird electronically wobbly folk music of Mike Lindsay, he of Tunng fame. I could envision their collaboration. So, I had high hopes. I just didn’t think it would be this good. 

I suppose, given the fact that Mike Lindsay wrote the music, played keyboards, guitar, and percussion, while Laura provided vocals and lyrics, this is closer to the music of Tunng’s Good Arrows than, say, Marling’s Once I Was an Eagle, but just by a bit. I think this is folktronica, which I usually don’t like very much. But I love this record.

“Late to the Flight” presents the blueprint: a low electronic rumble, a picked acoustic guitar, and Laura Marling’s deadpan melodic multi-tracked voice. Nico of Velvet Underground fame comes to mind. As does folky Bridget St John. But, ultimately, this is arty stuff. If pop or straight folk music is desired, don’t spin this one.

Apparently, this is a “compelling narrative about…the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness.” Well, that may be true, but it’s an awfully melodic “narrative about…the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness.”

Now, I could be wrong, but I always thought listening to weird and vital music, like this album, did just that. You know, great tunes allowed the human race to escape our own meaninglessness. So, this record exposes out piteous state, while, at the same time, serves as a vehicle to avoid the reality of our quiet desperation. That’s ironic. Well, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, “So it goes.”

The second song, “May I Be the Light,” bubbles with electronics and keyboard melody. But then the vocals soar over the tune into an extremely pure atmosphere. I love similes, and I should mention Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers, but I don’t think they flew this high.

“Rolling Thunder” has a tough vocal. There are typewriter-like clicks, keyboards, and flute sounds. A guitar roughs up the tune. A trombone is added. This one is a pleasant jumble of noises. It’s also a dramatic jumble of noises. Having freed herself from folk forms (as she is wont to do), Laura Marling’s voice roams into weird space while Mike Lindsay's guitar saws its way through the dense melodic framework of the song.

And just so you know, I seriously doubt there will ever be a need for a Lump Anonymous meeting.

But, oh my, “Curse of the Contemporary” is simply a great cut. The opening bass/guitar bit is quirky and catchy, like a really nice Peter Gabriel single circa “Games Without Frontiers” or “Solsbury Hill.” The vocal again soars. I suppose Joni Mitchell and everything beautiful about Woodstock comes to mind. This song also evokes the equally great Kate Bush and her Hounds of Love with a lovely chanted vocal which suddenly drifts into a dream until it returns, with even more power (and urgent guitar work), to the original melody. I know that’s saying a lot. But I said it and, well, it’s a powerful tune.

Really, I stand by the earlier comment that the first song, “Late to the Flight,” is a tad arty, what with the Nico vocal and all. But truly, “Curse” has a clever pop sensibility that will appeal to enlightened ears. Now, in truth, I haven’t been on a dancefloor since prom 1974, but if kids want to dance, this tune is a pretty great soundtrack.

And there is the gutsy sound of “Hand Hold Hero.” Electronics continue to bubble. The vocal is off hand, matter of fact, almost deadpan, and really cool. Rickie Lee Jones comes to mind. But then those backing vocals, as they have done throughout the record, hover with heavenly heights. This is insistent folk-electronic-rock music. The ending percussion/keyboard duet cuts a weirdly wonderful groove.

There’s more bubbling that ushers in the final real song, “Shake Your Shelter.” It returns to the blueprint: electronic sounds frame the alternating deadpan and absolutely soaring vocals of Laura Marling. This one, with its descending bass line, plays a cool winning hand with full house certainty. The song swells with beauty.

The album ends with “Lump is a Product (credits).” There is a vocal list of who did what. I don’t know. It’s been done before, so it seems a bit trite. It’s a short album, barely cracking the thirty-one-minute mark. Perhaps, the attention span dwindles these days. But, as I have stated, beauty should come before age. And maybe, I’m just an old guy who is stuck in the Uriah Heep revolving door groove and cursed with an antiquated idea of a two-sided forty-minute album that was dictated but the vinyl mastering limitation.

I’ll bring that up at the next Heeps Anonymous meeting.

But, as Joseph Conrad said in Heart of Darkness, “approach with caution.” So yeah, this is an odd excuse for a rock ‘n’ roll record, but it’s a pretty great excuse for an album that cuts to the bone and plays its electronic heart with melodies for all to hum. And I have checked, there’s not a Lump wall clock to be found for sale on Amazon. So that’s a good thing. Truly, this is great music. And, as Laura Marling almost said on her previous great album, Semper Musica magnam.

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