Monday, April 11, 2011

Record review: A Lull - 'Confetti'

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

It’s difficult to find an article on A Lull that doesn’t mention their creative uses of percussion. So as the precedent is set, this one should be no different. Various accounts spin tales of throwing bottles against walls, rustling bags of trash, hitting drums with microphones – really anything to create a pummeling tumult that leaves a percussive hangover. Damned if you can pick out all of the details of what you just heard (oh, and there are many) but you know the cognitive jumble you are currently experiencing means the cause was worth the effect.

It would be unfair to drop an Animal Collective tag on A Lull, even if the tribal-psych trailblazers do come to mind as an influence. But while A Lull is as awash in digital noises and experimentation as AnCo are, they differ greatly vocally, eschewing the Beach Boys in an underwater church reverb for a more intimate, close-mic’d conveyance.

Nigel Evan Dennis’s vocals can be obscure at times, less focused on descriptively telling stories than as a literary enhancement of the musical repetition and chaos that surround them. Opener "Weapons for War" starts the album off ominously: “I went home with my very best friend / with a gun, with a blade, with a name, one name.” An unnerving recurring lyrical theme is doubt and the helplessness felt after abandonment. "Dark Stuff" repeats “Sometimes 1’s not enough / sometimes 5’s not enough,” and all Nigel asks for in "Some Love" is to show him some. In "Mammals," he waxes philosophical on the human condition, offering “All we know are each other’s holes.” The aptly titled "Pregnancy" provides a free saxophone jam to build up the tension, waiting to give birth to the paranoia in "Sidemen," which dissolves into a fading chorus of voices. And despite all of the twists and turns each track can take, the transitions are never fractured, but rather weaved fluidly into and around each other. The album closes in gloom, as "Aytche" breaks down into a looping soundscape, with the vocals running to the distance, before building back up into a post-emo lament: “I’ll go home alone” is the tone in which the album closes, over a drowning synthesized glitch.

A Lull "Weapons For War" from A Lull on Vimeo.
In the end, A Lull finds their place in the in-between. Their sound conjures up a guitarless My Bloody Valentine, a less mathematical Battles, grandiosity reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens but packed with a stronger punch…the RIYL list can go on. Considering the detail employed on this album, each new pair of ears will pick up something new, hidden in the depth and layers. Likewise, their sound exists in-between pop and experimental, digital and physical, cold and warm, less so straddling these opposites than valuing the cracks created by them.

If it hasn’t happened already, it would be brilliant to see these guys versus Yawn, all on a stage making as much percussive noise as possible; petition forthcoming. Until then, Confetti drops this Tuesday the 12th, and you can catch the band's record release show at Schubas on Friday the 22nd with locals Yourself and the Air and Nashville’s Heypenny.

   Mammals by A Lull


Check out more record reviews:
Soft Speaker - I'll Tend Your Garden
The Dogs - Camping
Daniel Knox - Evryman for Himself
Architecture - When We Were Young
Whales - self-titled LP

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