The Proper Ornaments - Six Lenins - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Proper Ornaments - Six Lenins

by Mark Moody Rating:7 Release Date:2019-04-05
The Proper Ornaments - Six Lenins
The Proper Ornaments - Six Lenins

Coming a few weeks after the launch of ex-musical partner Jack Cooper’s Modern Nature, James Hoare returns with the latest album from his remaining vehicle The Proper Ornaments.  Hoare and Cooper’s Ultimate Painting broke up on the eve of what was likely to be their finest release to date and managed to get their label not to release it.  Citing an irreconcilable breakdown it’s hard to imagine a squabble emerging from the creation of Ultimate Painting’s brand of delicately dreamy psych-pop.  Moving on though, Hoare and fellow original Proper Ornament’s member, Max Claps, are joined by Danny Nellis on bass and Bobby Syme on drums on their latest release Six Lenins

Unlike Ultimate Paintings’ crisply played and separated sound, The Proper Ornaments’ have the vocals pushed further down in favor of a guitar dominant and reverbed wall of sound.  The lead-off ‘Apologies’ is carried by a heavily tremoloed guitar over hushed vocals.  Even though Hoare sings of “retaliation blowing through my mind”, the warm bath of sound feels too pleasant to conjure up any sense of animosity. 

The psychedelic swirl of folk and pop throughout the album brings to mind Elliott Smith filtered through The Mamas and Papas filtered through Badfinger.  The mournful synths and acoustic guitar of ‘Where Are You Now’, particularly have this vibe.  While the pillowy soft ‘Bullet From a Gun’ sounds like a slowed down ‘Come and Get It’ and shares a lyrical line or two.  After a few listens the aptly titled ‘Song For John Lennon’ reveals itself as an updated ‘Across The Universe’.  A line like “messages you sent to me flowing freely in the breeze” invokes the same peaceful pace of the most spiritual Beatles’ mantra.

Given its obvious sixties and seventies touchpoints, there is not a lot new under the sun on Six Lenins, but it is all meticulously done and makes for an enjoyable listen.  The moments where it does set itself apart from its source material are on its most bristling ones.  The simultaneously churning and chiming guitars on ‘Crepuscular Child’ mask the vocals but give the song a dynamic drive.  The title track also has more of a sense of urgency and dread befitting the albums otherwise out of sync cover art.  But the album’s peak comes at the end with the fuzzy guitar rave-up, ‘In The Garden’, that recalls the heyday of the best of the Flying Nun bands.  ‘Old Street Station’ is also a lovely acoustic break, but it’s marred by an utterly unnecessary drone bomb sound effect. 

All in all, Six Lenins comes recommended, but oftentimes it feels more of a tribute album than an original work of art.  The reminisces may carry things along and serve as the home base to wander out from, but it’s in those departures where the most interesting moments happen.


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