Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Record review: A Lull - 'Meat Mountain' EP

By Andrew Hertzberg

A Lull have normally been associated with The Wall of Sound tag, less so by thousands of layers of reverb, but with just throwing everything they have in the studio into a song. While the Meat Mountain EP certainly falls in line with A Lull’s sound, it shows a bit more restraint than in the past (but really, only just a bit). The album starts off with very abstract sounds, but doesn’t waste time getting into things.

"Summer Dress" kicks things off, sounding a bit more dancey than anything on Confetti. With sporadic sax thrown in and a funky bassline, it’s hard not to think of what Friendly Fires are doing. Always a band to embrace dynamism, "Beaches" has a simple drum beat and a lingering pad to start the song before moving into a Swedish beach sound, akin to Studio or Korallreven. "Still Got Pull" enters into what I can only describe as power-surf-pop: the layered vocals wash over the overly reverberated guitars, complete with a tension filled breakdown. While Confetti was certainly a dynamic album, here we find spaces with almost no sound at all. Especially after starting off with the intensely constant percussion that marked so much of their previous LP, it provides an atmospheric soundtrack that borders on post-rock. Compared to Confetti, A Lull have knocked down the wall of sound and opened up a window. "Not About It" has a Depeche Mode vibe, but without trying to imitate Dave Gahan’s voice so much. The end of the song releases the most cathartic moment of the album, with the repeated mantra “You’re nothing / You’re nothing / You’re nothing without me.”

No matter how much the band likes to experiment, they still retain a generally accessible sound, finding themselves making pop songs gone experimental as opposed to experimental for its own sake. There’s as much room for infectious head-bobbing as there is for quiet contemplation. At only five songs, the chilled ending of "Would That I Could" leaves you wanting more, probably their intended affect. Considering the difference between this and Confetti, you know they’re always looking to go someplace new.

Wanna see how the new songs translate live? A Lull starts off the Sunday at Pitchfork this weekend (single day tickets still available) and then play later that night at Schubas opening for Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Dirty Beaches (tickets available here). After that, they head on the road for a bit to promote the new album. Meat Mountain is available now on Lujo Records, available for stream and download on Bandcamp.

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