Monday, March 9, 2015

Lady Lamb - After

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - After

After is Lady Lamb (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper)'s second studio album, following 2013's Ripely Pine and a string of lo-fi self-released recordings dating back to 2007. Ripely Pine, along with Torres' self-titled debut and Danish punks Iceage's second album You're Nothing, was an album by a promising young artist in my end of year list that was littered with the likes of Polvo, My Bloody Valentine and Richard Thompson. Iceage released a superb third album last year, Torres' second album is due in May, and here, of course, is After.

After very quickly answers the question of whether or not Aly Spaltro was willing to ride the crest of a wave and write twelve more songs in the particularly manic folk-rock style of Ripely Pine. This is one case in which I would have been fine with that, but to her credit, she's pushing herself in different directions already. It's not as if After is a radical reinvention - the tricks and tropes of Ripely Pine are all over it, in fact - but Spaltro's approach is more measured and her lyrics are broader in scope while still loaded with personal frames of reference. She's also more confident than before, which is really fucking saying something. She got a lot of mileage out of quiet-loud dynamics on Ripely Pine, building tension with the former and providing release with the latter. This carries over to After, but flourishes such as the way the opener "Vena Cava" stretches her voice and the stuttering rhythm of the penultimate "Batter" show she knows how to tread the line between exploiting an approach works and simply repeating herself. Elsewhere, songs such as "Ten" disperse her energy more evenly, and the contrast informs much of After's character. It keeps the listener on their toes, and in that sense, it's a microcosm for the career of an artist for whom complacency is not an option.

Sex, War & Robots