Release Date: Nov 13, 2015
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
A greater sense of energy and urgency characterises Beings than was the case in the Lanterns’ last album, Until the Colours Run. It’s a bold venture that reminds one of the risks taken by Low on Drums and Guns (2007) after their earlier, more restrained work. For Lanterns, the contrast between Colours and Beings is not as stark, but it is a commendable and very successful shift in tone.
There’s always been a melancholic undertow threatening to submerge the glowing winsomeness of Newcastle’s Lanterns On The Lake, adding a depth to their gentle beauty. On last album Until The Colours Run, this was bolstered with personal and political frustration – and on this third record, emotions continue to run high, often verging on fiery. It’s a mood that suits them.
Two years since Until the Colours Run debuted, U.K.-based quartet Lanterns on the Lake returns with their third full-length album. Much like its predecessor, Beings opens with lead-singer Hazel Wilde's haunting vocal work, this time on "Of Dust & Matter." Such a song title might come across as grandiose, but it's befitting of the record, which has the difficult to describe trait of sounding like a self-contained epic. The songs that comprise it are poignant, simultaneously sweeping and extremely intimate, and filled with transportive powers.
There’s a real sense of evolution written all over the third album from Lanterns On The Lake. When they first appeared, with Gracious Tide Take Me Home in 2011, they could be handily pigeonholed next to the likes of Sigur Rós or Low: all hushed orchestration and fragile moments of melancholic beauty, with Hazel Wilde and Adam Sykes on joint vocal duties. Sykes then left the band, and the follow-up, Until The Colours Run, saw more focus fall on Wilde, together with a harder, angrier, more political edge.
Post-apocalyptic. That’s how one could describe the mood and feeling of Beings, the third album from Newcastle indie band Lanterns on the Lake. These ten songs reflect a world that has been torn apart, crushed underfoot, and ravaged by injustice. But there aren’t any loud explosions here, no violent recriminations.
There's something glorious about listening to an album which sounds coherent, cohesive, in which all of the songs make sense individually and within the context of the whole. Sure, there might be standout moments, but the deepest satisfaction is derived from taking in the piece as a whole. Sadly, this is all too rare in my experience, but at least with Beings, the new album from Newcastle sextet Lanterns on the Lake, the latter part of 2015 has been graced with one such artistic statement.
Following a couple more lineup changes but with the founding core of singer Hazel Wilde, multi-instrumentalist Paul Gregory, and drummer Oliver Ketteringham still intact, Lanterns on the Lake present Beings, their absorbing third long-player. Written and recorded as a group in the band's rehearsal space with Gregory again overseeing production, the album doesn't mark a change in direction so much as an expansion; their signature atmospheric despondence remains but with scaled-up textures for lusher climaxes and, more to the point, starker contrasts. The loose and spacy opener, "Of Dust & Matter," for instance, has a broad range of instruments and effects, including much that is unidentifiable: what sound like processed samples, sci-fi film-like murmurs, and eerie thumps alongside marching keyboard chords, wailing electronics, full drums, and chiming electric guitars.
Even if Lanterns on the Lake hadn’t been making gradually more mature, sophisticated and quietly stirring indie rock records these past few years, the fact that they continue to fly under the radar would be a travesty for more than that. They seem, as a band, to be tapping into the national state of government-fuelled unrest whilst the genre, by and large, remains an inexplicably serene parallel universe. 2013’s ‘Until the Colours Run’ was a stormy and viscerally disaffected affair, matching the sweeping grandiosity of its soundscapes with incisive, passionate lyricism.