Bands with single-word, icky names are often bloody marvellous (or just bloody). I’m thinking Cud, Lard, Belly, Hole and (guilty pleasure, admittedly) even Heart. Often the more corporeal and invasive, the more icky a name can feel. To this esteemed brigade of ear-and-stomach-turners, we welcome LUMP, the new collaboration between pensive folk singer/songwriter, Laura Marling and experimental Mercury-Prize-winning producer, and founder of Throws and Tunng, Mike Lindsay. ‘Tunng’ sounds potentially icky too, depending on where said tongue is and what it’s doing.
We can all remember enjoying ‘Lump’ by The Presidents of the United States of America, two gloriously innocent decades before the lumpen proletariat across the pond dabbled in some weird Hocus POTUS and lumped the numerical majority of voters with the hump, electing a Twitter-happy Trump. If this and other unforeseeable, unfathomable recent events aren’t proof enough of the absurdity of modern life, then I’m not sure what level of ludicrousness you’re after. It’s a reaction to this vacuity that brings Marling and Lindsay to create LUMP, gradually refilling the void.
Opener, ‘Late To The Flight’ begins in nu-folk territory, with accordion and reverbed guitar evoking the atmospheric nature of Lau. The lyrics kick in with all the John Cooper Clarke acumen of The Arctic Monkeys: “If you keep rolling the dices,/ keep that stake in your heart,/you’ll look like a crooner in crisis,/ shaking your hips like a tart.” Not sure what the collective noun is for a group of Marlings, but a layered chorus of her vocal tracks beguiles and enchants utterly by the time five-and-a-half minutes have swiftly elapsed. Time flies.
‘May I Be The Light’ arrives like Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, with the addition of percussion that could well have been played on pots and pans (if Noel Gallagher can have someone playing scissors…). Its advice of “Please don’t leave your bed in a mess,/ just in case you get some new guest,” might make you go and straighten your duvet, but it might also remind you of that rather messy scene featuring Spud in Trainspotting. Similarly insistent beats, more akin to Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ combine with Bob-Dylan-like storytelling on ‘Hand Hold Hero.’
Avalanches-meets-Morcheeba affirmation, ‘Rolling Thunder’ seems to retain the ethos of Marling’s 2017 release, Semper Femina, whilst ditching the stark soundscape in favour of the cinematic. “I’m a woman of a certain space and time,” reminds us that we are listening to someone with an empowering confidence in her convictions. Lead track, ‘Curse of the Contemporary’ contemplates what could happen if you’re bored in California, its psychedelic dream-pop sounding gorgeously, woozily under the influence of what Californians might genuinely inhale or ingest to counteract boredom.
Lindsay and Marling talk about LUMP as if it is their child, something that occurred naturally between them; and the album is indeed what every parent would want to see in their offspring. It aspires towards a better present and future in its pursuit of innovative beauty; it seeks truths. Undoubtedly made in its creators’ image, LUMP is an eccentric but forthright child, one that will never pander to peer-group popularity, but will always gain acceptance through intelligence, sensitivity and honesty combined.
LUMP is available now on Dead Oceans.