Lambchop - The Bible Music Album Reviews

Lambchop - The Bible Music Album Reviews
The latest from Kurt Wagner’s shapeshifting group is its darkest yet: a haunting ode to everyday American pain and the small ways we make it through.

“The room is warmer than it should be,” Kurt Wagner sings in the opening line of The Bible, instantly capturing an air of unease in the kind of unassumingly mundane way that has practically become Lambchop’s signature. Recounting a visit with his father as he nears the end of his life, Wagner’s low voice droops over a bed of empty, ringing piano keys: “Now these days are measured by the number/Thirty summers from today.” As Wagner mulls over the increasingly meaningless distance between his father’s age and his own, a miniature orchestra of electronics joins in—the chintzy harps and weeping strings give an unearthly effect, like watching a funeral service through a low-resolution livestream. But just when it seems like the uncomfortable emotion might be too much to bear, Wagner pulls the rug from under us once more. “It should get easier with time,” he contemplates, before following it up with a wisecrack: “No one’s edgier than I.”

After over 30 years as the ringleader of “Nashville’s most fucked up country band,” the sheepishly subversive songwriter has broken down and rebuilt American music time and time again, albeit much more subtly than most iconoclasts. Wagner’s world operates on a smaller scale: He writes songs that feel suffused with importance despite being about lonely house dogs, or stopping for donuts on the drive home. For Wagner, wiping the slate clean on his band’s sound is less about testing out new genres than it is about gently revealing more wrinkles to his worldview. Though he’s always freely tinkered with oddball electronics, in recent years he’s pushed his sounds even further into the ether, shrouding his own voice in Vocoder and breaking down his music into a ghostly haze. For an artist who’s always thrived on a certain level of modest obscurity, Wagner’s later years have been a steady process of vanishing almost completely into thin air.

The Bible is easily Lambchop’s darkest work. Now 62 years old, Wagner spends its songs wrestling with death, confronting the passage of time with the same amused eccentricity that’s always been the lifeblood of his music. Stylistically, the band sounds freer than it’s ever been, as Wagner, pianist Andrew Broder, and producer Ryan Olson concoct a shapeshifting cocktail of Bacharach-ian baroque pop, off kilter digi-funk, glitched out gospel, and deconstructed chamber music. It is to Lambchop what Goodbye to Language was to Godard: the kind of bold late-period triumph that could have only come from an old master playfully grappling with the tools of our uncanny present moment.

There’s a disembodied quality to the songs on The Bible, and even the most ornate orchestral arrangements have the eeriness of a hologram. Each individual song feels as if it could be undone at any moment. “Whatever, Mortal” cruises on a sly smooth jazz build, the bridge slowly climbing to a dreamy swirl of brass and electronics before, out of nowhere, the stock sound of a gun clocking snaps us back to the chorus. Even more jarring is “Daisy,” a touching barroom ballad with all the wry wit of a Randy Newman weeper, where, after a minute and a half, Wagner’s gentle singing is suddenly interrupted by a loud “HEY!” straight out of an Ableton crunk sample pack. It might very well be Lambchop’s equivalent of the Grouper microwave beep, instantly collapsing the reality of the song and thrusting us back into the absurd technological fabric of the world around us.

For all its cold electronic effects, however, The Bible emanates compassion and warmth. As “edgy” as he may be, Wagner’s ultimate weapon is his softness: an ability to command silence like just another instrument at his disposal. It’s in the little moments, such as on the Angelo Badalamenti-like “So There,” where a tremble in his voice flutters out as he sings, “My eyes are open like a screen door to your heartbeat,” imbuing the song with a hushed, elegiac intimacy. In “A Major Minor Drag,” Wagner meditates on the death of Gift of Gab, surrounding his own Auto-Tuned voice in a choir of shimmering bells. “I’m at war now with the obvious,” he croons as the song reaches a triumphant climax, swelling like a solemn tribute to a fallen soldier. Surreal as his approach may be, Wagner never lets his songs’ peculiarities stand above their vulnerability.

The Bible is a willfully abstract record, but for its many experiments, Wagner and company bring an intense focus to these songs. Wagner sounds urgent, even pleading, on tracks like “Little Black Boxes” and “Police Dog Blues,” navigating their twisting and unsettled grooves as if he were trying to reveal some kind of logic in their disorder. The latter song was inspired by the George Floyd riots, and it takes its name from an old Blind Blake song that just so happens to have been released the year Wagner’s father was born. As random as these fragments may seem, Wagner connects them into something unified: a haunting ode to everyday American pain and the small ways we make it through.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lambchop - The Bible Music Album Reviews Lambchop - The Bible Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 10, 2022 Rating: 5


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