The Lodger – Flashbacks

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Leeds’ band The Lodger have released two albums to date, those being filled with angular guitar knives and steady drum beats.  Not keen to repeat themselves, the band changed it all a bit for their new album Flashbacks.  While it certainly retains a certain sense of familiarity for fans of the group, you’ll find a bit more exploration in regards to the overall sound of the band.

With the band’s first single “Back of My Mind” you get the sense that singer Ben Sidall is, as usual, always contemplating the state of his relationships, or his life as he states “I fall to the ground and say/I’m lost in the back of my mind.”  Thematically, there’s a bit of stasis here, but the song itself is about as dense a song as the group has writtern; it’s as if the song is wearing some sort of grey (not gray since they’re British) sweater.  All in all, it’s a step to the side of minimalist pop, keeping the band’s personas while searching for new ground.

Stylistically, “Have a Little Faith in People” and “Time to Wait” return to hallowed ground, but even then the band is building their sonic palate, adding tiny flourishes that you might not pick up on, but definitely add to the sound.  Horns are used atop the hooky guitar chords in both songs, as are female backing vocals listed only as Sarah and Georgia. All these miniscule moves remove a bit of the energy, creating a layer of warmth that does indeed alter The Lodger on this record.

This album’s title track has quickly become one of my favorite tracks as I’ve listened over and over again.  It’s such an understated quiet number, utilizing the additional string elements in the beginning of the track.  While it does come off as a bit of an elegy to a loved one, the emphatic climax of the song, coming off somewhat like a Jarvis Cocker revelation, seems to show Ben moving on from this loved one.  A gorgeous closing minute and a half of the song is begun by a melancholy trickling piano just before the horns come in, as if to rejoice at life’s progress.

Whoever this girl is surely did a number on Mr. Sidall.  “Lost” tells the story of a narrator nervous about losing his girl, eventually  hoping she’ll let him go, as she’s left him lost in some confused state of mind.  Once again, string arrangements really bring this song home, adding more depth than one would normally except from this band (no offense fellas).  Still, the girl’s memory pushes on in this collection, encouraging Ben to lose himself once again in “Nothing’s Impossible,” which is probably the song that most resembles the band’s previous work.

It’s hard, as a fan, not to be in love with this record entirely, but it really is a solid piece of work.  While the jangling guitar hooks and precision percussion remain, they’ve added more to fill out the sound of Flashbacks.  Using horns, strings and female vocals to add a little contrast has created a gentle album eager to fill your days with innumerable amounts of listening pleasure.  It’s consistently good, listen after listen, making me (and you I hope) fall in love with The Lodger all over again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Lodger-The-Back-Of-My-Mind.mp3]

Download: The Lodger – The Back Of My Mind [MP3]

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