LUMP - 'LUMP' Album Review
'LUMP is a product' Laura Marling's voice repeats, distorted and rattling alongside Mike Lindsay's dreamy synths in the final song of this album. To call this a song, however, feels inaccurate. It is a credit sequence of all that has come before in the album. In fact, to call it an album feels like a misjudgement. No, LUMP is a product. A product of Marling and Lindsay's love of exploration, embracement of the surreal and ultimate playfulness when creating music.
They describe this album as a "cyclical drone journey album" and like all journeys, we start at the beginning. They first met when Marling was supporting Neil Young at the O2 in 2016, a week later she had recorded all of her vocals for an unnamed project that would later become LUMP. With Lindsay having already composed the music, it feels almost fate-like or destined that this meeting occurred, that Laura was free, that this spontaneous passion-project came to fruition. I can already hear the scoffs but hear me out. To listen to this album is to embrace the fantastical, immersive, somewhat scoff-inducing wiles of yetis, fate and dreams. When listening, however, we do not scoff as LUMP combines these conceptual ideas with an intriguing, sometimes harsh, investigation into contemporary society and living.
Marling's vocals in LUMP alter and change track to track and we see a new range unexplored in the past. She has previously named her influences as Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell and in this project this is blindingly apparent. 'Late to the Flight' lures us in to a classic Marling sound, her voice and her guitar, before leading us into a whirlwind of new sounds. Both the simple vocals and slow instrumentals feel reminiscent of a dream and as Marling sings 'put dots on your wrist', a technique to induce lucid dreaming, we are instructed to let the album take us where we would like as in a lucid dream. Control within endless possibility.
'May I be the Light' feels almost filmic, with electronic video game sound effects meeting orchestral instruments and of course Marling's vocals in this track reaching new highs as she sings 'It's a sign of the times' over and over until you think she may run out of air. This track flows into 'Rolling Thunder' with a repetitive bass fading into silence before the lyrics, of certainty and statement roll in. Marling sings "I'm your mother/I'm your father/We are men/We are gold". There is simplicity in statement and this combined with the complex and busy compositions balance each other out to perfection.
In the official video for 'Curse of the Contemporary' is where we see LUMP (the yeti) a bizarre fur covered creature flailing limbs and flinging its body around to this song. Perhaps the most catchy song of the project, with Marling's Kate Bush-esque vocals and Lindsay's cleverly simple guitar riffs it is no surprise that when listening you may feel inclined to fling your limbs around like the yeti. It is no coincidence that the most commercial sounding track, provides an indictment of the shallowness of California as she sings 'And evidently/It's just another vanity/ Another something to believe/The Curse of the Contemporary'. Check out LUMP's live performance of this track with Jools Holland for BBC Two here.
'Hand Hold Hero' and 'Shake Your Shelter' conclude the last full tracks of the album with songs about being there for people and a crab. These ethereal tracks, of course, are more than what they seem. LUMP works best when it leans into the surreal, as 'You shake on a shell/And it feels like a cell/But you can't have that', perhaps revealing more about the human psyche through the refusal to address it.
This is a project that requires many listens and even then you will have failed to unpick it all. But that is the beauty of LUMP. Through its flagrant embrace of the weird and the wonderful, both musically and thematically, there is simultaneously both no meaning and a whole wealth of possible meanings. It all depends on you.