When I got notice through about a new Lorn album, I got pretty excited. “Nothing Else” was a huge album with a fistful of tunes that blew away a lot of other shitty namby pamby albums that year because it had both power and skill. It fed the heart and the head AND you could actually dance to it…so a lot to live up to.
I was a little bit worried, on reading the press release, to hear that he has added live drums and vocals and has also gone for a warmer sound. One of the things I loved about “Nothing Else” was its cold beauty. It had an almost gothic elegance to some of the melodies and at no point did I think “This needs drums and vocals” (ie: it needs to sound like virtually every other electronica act out there). The first couple of tunes pass by without incident. They’re not bad but one is just intro and the other is just an idea really, so the first proper tune is “Weigh Me Down” which features live drums and vocals. And it’s really fucking good. Continuing the kind of dubstep but without the clichés thing that he did so well on the first album, he has created a catchy almost pop song that is instantly recognizable as him but could quite easily be gracing some fucking car advert or something if he’s not careful.
“This” is another sketch really and “Diamond” is sort of ruined by a horrible trumpet sound half way through. In fact this is one of my beefs with this album. There are a few inadvisable synth noises that cheapen the tunes they appear in which is probably what the press release meant when it said he was aiming for a “warmer” sound but …if it isn’t broke why fix it ? Midway through the album I started to notice that there are some seriously familiar things going on too. The beats from “Everything Is Violence” sound exactly something off the first album (until he garnishes it with a “live” drum solo) and while Lorn beats are a definite strength they do stick to a formula.
“The Well” is another good tune that is besmirched by a bad synth solo but it becomes a whole different thing when he lets everything drift off and decides to go all ethereal with a fuzzy sonar noise and a big Autechre style bass. This minute and a half and “Weigh Me Down” are easily the best moments on the album. “The Gun” is great sounding but is a bit too reminiscent of Kangding Ray for my liking and that’s where the whole vocal thing seems to be coming from.
For every good thing I find on this album (like the Cello bass on “Ghosst(s)) there is an annoying car alarm sound (like on “Dead Dogs”) that annoys me. Overall I like the album but not as much as “Nothing Else” but only time will tell, I suppose, on whether this is a viable follow up to that album.
Out soon on Ninja Tune http://ninjatune.net/release/lorn/ask-the-dust