The genius of Lanterns on The Lake is that they can be simultaneously powerful and vulnerable. Joyous yet melancholy. They can juxtapose thrashing crescendos with moments of serene tranquillity. You’ll never know why one minute you’re punching the air with elation and the next you’re embracing your loved ones with tears rolling down your face.
Opening track Of Dust and Matter embodies this . Like a funeral march, the kick-drum thuds like a heart-beat clouded in static. Layers of guitars swell and drift sweetly. Hazel Wilde’s soft vocal at one moment exposed and defenceless and then the next delivered with Siouxsie Sioux-esque venom.
This dichotomy of strength and frailty runs throughout this record and it can be heard in the structure of the tracks and the expression in the delivery. Many songs float with Paul Gregory’s ghostly guitars such as in Stall Them; he’s developed a guitar style that has a beautiful ethereal quality. Gregory can make his guitar sing like an electric orchestra with layer upon layer of rhythms and effects that equally give space for the vocal melodies. From a musical point of view- what exceptional players and indeed listeners they all are- each part supports another. This is a band that has the perfect blend of discipline and invention.
Lanterns’ first single from this collection is Faultlines -a song driven by Allan’s bass guitar and Ketteringham’s drums. This song has been deservedly praised by Radio 6’s Steve Lamacq. It swells with crescendos and frays beautifully into almost silence. I’ve been repeating the phrase ‘you are’ with almost semantic analysis since I first heard the track. Yes I am. Profoundly and wonderfully true.
Send Me Home is the track that seemed to crack my shell the deepest. A short tender ballad that waltzes and yearns. Wilde’s lyrics, in this song particularly but throughout this record, are heartfelt and at times bruised but always beautiful to hear.
The most interesting track on the record is Stepping Down featuring samples that seem to flicker and flash rhythmically. This is a very visually evocative track with a dream-like quality. Aside from occasional and familiar bursts of guitar and piano, the poly-choral vocal feels like the only familiar sound from the preceding tracks. Here Wilde’s celestial voice contrasts with the percussive pulse that underpins and threatens.
The power of the songs can be most keenly felt when listening alone. Every listen provoked some kind of genuine cathartic and emotional response that I just wouldn’t have experienced as part of a group. Perhaps I just need some more sensitive friends!
Lanterns on the Lake are a wonderful band that deserves to be cherished.
Beings is a terrific album; beauty permeates it with fragility and force.