Veteran alt-country mister Lambchop releasing with perhaps his thirtieth. For This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You) Kurt Wagner teamed up with fellow alternative country scenester Matthew McCaughan, known for playing drums for sad beard Bon Iver. The new album continues with the thoughtful mix of electronics and quiet country sounds started on 2016’s FLOTUS.
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There's no sane reason why Kurt Wagner's voice should be subject to autotune. Generally the effect seems to have a marmite effect on the listener - those under 30 in our office embrace it whilst the over 30s react as if a tiger had been let loose in the office. I for one have an absolute zero tolerance towards it and if it isn't as bad a thing as say, racism and homophobia, I have the same attitude towards it in that you have to take a stand and not allow anything so offensive into your life.
So basically Lambchop can just fuck off with this record. I can almost...almost forgive Low for allowing autotune onto one song on Double Negative (but I wasn't happy about it at all) and on the previous Lambchop album Flotus the effect was used sparingly - again....acceptable but here it is slathered onto every single track. Musically the record sounds flat and abysmal anyway as Wagner works mostly with Bon Iver (ah - there you go) collaborator Matt McCaughan but the main issue is that it as makes a great distinctive singer sound just like everyone else. On and on it goes- the same sound you hear on fucking everything.
I generally like and admire Lambchop's disregard for convention but this is a serious misstep. You are welcome to it, I'm outta here.
8/10 Simon 5th April 2019
Lambchop, class as ever - but think I would have gone 9/10 without the vocal processing
7/10 Richard 3rd April 2019
Firstly I can understand the problem Clinton has with this record, and autotune in general. Kurt Wagner has a great voice, so to subject it to autotune seems pretty daft. It worked OK on 'Flotus', and he's clearly of the opinion that it is the way forward for now. However, it's really not as bad as Clinton suggests. Although it's used on almost every tune here, there is a subtlety to the way Wagner's voice is manipulated. There is almost a warm wobble like pitch, notably on opener 'The New Isn't So You Anymore' which seems to sit comfortably with the laid back sounds that Lambchop are so good at. 'Everything For You' is as catchy as hell, and nods towards the great soul funk they mastered with their cover versions on their brilliant 'What Another Man Spills'.
I do agree that the album seems a little flat in comparison to vintage Lambchop, but the warmth still shines through, and I can imagine playing this quite a lot on a hot summer's day. The last track 'Flower' features no autotune, and is a reminder of how great Wagner's voice is. It also lacks the electronic approach of the rest of the record, so it's seems that if Lambchop ever ditch that, then they may ditch autotune too. I can imagine a fair few of you are praying for that. As it is, don't let this record simply pass you by. There is a lot to like here, and despite all it's flaws it's still a decent Lambchop record. But I guess if you are dead-set against autotune then there's no way of convincing you otherwise.
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