Returning for their first album in nearly five years, Spook The Herd is the fourth studio effort overall from Newcastle-based indie quintet Lanterns On The Lake. Having worked with the Royal Northern Sinfonia in the meantime, the band are now more detached from their roots than ever and embracing a wider range of influences. As the pointed title suggests, Spook The Herd seeks to explore the psychological manipulation that the media is able to have on people.
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I really like that thing Lykke Li does where she combines paired down drums, atmospheric guitars, and haunting vocals. As a combination of things it just works. And it works for Lanterns On The Lake too.
‘Spook The Herd’ manages to be rich and spare at the same time. The drums are pleasingly skeletal, usually just a thudding floor tom, and this leaves lots of space for the guitars to fill. It’s like trying to hide a bicycle with a beautiful blanket. They are guitars which can jangle and guitars which can shout. On ‘Swimming Lessons’ the guitars dance around the core rhythm while on ‘Blue Screen Beams’ they join in the drum and thud, thud, thud.
That richness comes in other forms too. ‘Secrets & Medicine’ trades its drums for a really soft sound piano, which paired with guitar, makes for an incredibly warm little song. And there’s Angela Chan, who plays strings on the record. Her contributions to ‘Swimming Pools’ give the track a sense of fluidity and grace that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
What I’ve yet to mention are Hazel Wilde’s vocals. They’re not trying to do the cool and disinterested thing Lykke Li does. No, they are earnest and they are sincere. When she sings that “I would split, every atom, to find the truth of you, that’s what I would do”, you believe her.
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