No Thee No Ess “Lights Over the Lake”
It wasn’t that long ago that I, along with the other contributors to this website, was struggling not to mention Neil Young in around 50% of all reviews, the influence at the time was that obvious. Nowadays it’s more likely to be Brian Wilson..
The other great emerging conclave is the bedroom auteurs assembling their tuneage symphonies to God (i.e. Brian Wilson) from unlikely elements. Andy Fung and Paul Battenbough are guilty on both counts but that doesn’t stop this from being an enjoyable and enduring record. ‘Let’s Get Away’ more than nods to Beach Boys songs and the lush strings and summery harmonies reinforce the borrowing.
The Beach Boys aren’t the only influence at play; the palette is broader than that, it spreads into Americana and indie-rock. ‘Birds’ starts like Knife in the Water (band not film) then gradually builds and blossoms, transforming itself into a rhythm guitar driven monster from which a lead guitar gradually emerges. It seems to end; but just pauses for breathe before gently starting again meandering towards acoustic guitars and staccato violin plucks, it’s eight minutes of your life that if you could relive it, then you’d choose to spend it in exactly the same way.
At times the high pitched vocals (I’m thinking especially of ‘Flying in Dreams’) can be distracting, on the spoken word ‘Devastated City’ this is certainly not a charge that can be substantiated. The narrator (Battenbough) delivers with great presence and confidence On ‘Good for Me’ the vocals are excellent as is the song which uses harmony and counterpoint to build the song before they fall away leaving understated strings to hold hands with the rock trio as the vocals soar like condors above. They take care over the music and package the whole thing in their own psychedelic art; they do stray toward the familiar and predictable at times and strain the limits of their abilities. This results in some excellent high points and some filler, they do have the virtue of always being interesting.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they one day produced a flat out classic, unfortunately, this isn’t it.