LAMB - The Secret of Letting Go - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

LAMB - The Secret of Letting Go

by Nathan McKinney Rating:8 Release Date:2019-04-26
LAMB - The Secret of Letting Go
LAMB - The Secret of Letting Go

Although originally coined way back in '80, it was the late 90s when the record industry collectively shrugged their shoulders and applied the term ‘electronica’ to the wave of electronic music genres gaining traction at the time. Dumbing down the nomenclature effectively homogenized otherwise unique genres like trip hop, ambient, house, techno and drum and bass for the masses. Despite the term, each of these sub-genres were still very distinct. So, when Lamb came on the scene in ’96, their particular blend of trip-hop and drum and bass with classical songwriting was somewhat unique. Fast forward to 2019 and Lamb are still blending genres, but the entire record industry has caught up. Genre blending is the norm, and instead of standing out, Lamb fit right in.

While the record industry may have caught up with Lamb’s blend of sounds, “The Secret of Letting Go”, is a fantastic point to introduce a new wave of fans to what has always been a class act, only this time, Lamb might be more approachable than ever. Part of what made Lamb so ahead of their time in the early days was their constant willingness to push the limits. In an effort to stand out, The vocals by Lou Rhodes were strikingly urgent and Andy Barlow's production, especially the beats, were just beyond comfortable. The tone was starker and moodier then. As was the trend with other late 90s acts like Sneaker Pimps, Massive Attack and Portishead, Rhodes vocals stood out with an almost shrill piercing quality that took a little getting used to. Pushing her voice to sound almost synthetic was a strong mirror of Lamb’s overall aesthetic: blending traditional instruments and sounds with harsher otherworldly breakbeats, bleeps and blips into a finely adjusted concoction.

On “The Secret of Letting Go”, the edginess is dialed back and at times completely absent. While there are still hints of Lamb’s early sound, the duo has enough maturity where their fusion of sounds comes more naturally. Still, the instrumentation is lush as ever with strings and horns standing side-by-side with synths and electronic beats. The opening tracks, “Phosphorus” and “Moonshine” establish a rich tapestry of sounds, but are too brief to be much more than intros to the more complex tracks ahead. Seasoned fans will appreciate a return to proven Lamb trademarks such as the tonal bouncer “Bulletproof, prototype Bond theme “Armageddon Waits”, electronic-jazz freakout “Deep Delirium”, and the tension-builder title track “The Secret of Letting Go”. Elsewhere, “The Other Shore” and “Illumina" tend to echo Rhodes’ solo work as a zen-inclined mellow songwriter, only with more lavish backdrops.

Instead of maintaining the tension, the LP ends with two quieter tracks. “Silence Inbetween” is as plaintive a ballad as you’ll find in Lamb’s back catalog. Whispering violin scratches, smooth strings, and simple tones accompany this sincerest track on the record. It’s a lovely way to end the record, if only it was the end. “One Hand Clapping” rounds out the record with comparatively simplistic lyrics, evaporating the edge from the album a little too much.

Perhaps newcomers won’t notice this more polished version of Lamb, but they’re also less likely to be pushed away by it. While the LP’s lack of angst is a slight loss, “The Secret of Letting Go” sees Lamb fully-evolved and content, allowing them to just be their best selves. Hopefully, this will be the gateway for a new generation to appreciate their oft-overlooked earlier work.

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