Lanterns on the Lake – Beings Review

The Newcastle based Lanterns on the Lake have been providing us with their symphonic rock sound for around five years since their debut album and now they’re here with their third, titled Beings. The follow up to 2013’s Until the Colours Run looks to generate a solid and more tangible identification with the bands graceful and delicate sound which are often delivered with lyrical references to the environment of Northumbria around the band’s leader Hazel Wilde.

The lead single ‘Faultlines’ opens with Hazel’s vocals hanging off the sweeping piano chords which hints at a rapidity that is soon signified by the introduction of the pace setting bass lines and percussion and it takes on a structure and tone similar to that of a Killers track circa 2009. The track repeats its pattern of pulling the pace setting instrumentation in and out to add a sense of depth in the track which is widened as the music gradually becomes more washed out with the vocals sweeping to their heights. ‘Send Me Home’ is a little more typical of the group with the steady piano chords and Hazel’s vocals meandering through them elegantly as she sings about wishing to get away from the daily grind and go home. The track has a natural atmosphere accentuated by a complimentary production which makes the track soar. Familiar but something that is difficult to become sick of. The title track is similar in this tone and feel with the gradually rising sound advanced through at time rapid percussion in what is a sombre musical environment.

‘The Crawl’ opens with the lone guitar riff with its slight echo and from here the instrumentation is gradually increased with the piano first, the slow, stomping percussion and the clearer and more powerful vocals. The start to expand and grow as do the guitar parts and from here the song builds in an ever increasing light. ‘Stepping Down’ is one of the more experimental tracks on the album with its murky and shuffling electronica and samples with a eerie chime hanging over them along with Hazel’s lingering vocal. It is one of the highlights of the album in it’s understated ambition. This is not an album that is going to make you get up and dance, let’s be clear. This album is one contemplation and immersion and if its one thing this band does well is immerse you with their music and lyrical content. It’s business as usual with this album with a few subtle hints at new avenues of exploration.

Lanterns on the Lake – Beings = 8/10

Lanterns On The Lake – Until The Colours Run Review

These are Lanterns On The Lake who are made up by Hazel Wilde, Paul Gregory, Sarah Kemp, Oliver Ketteringham and Andrew Scrogham. They come from Newcastle; and they paint a very different picture of the place as opposed to what is shown from the mass media perspective. On this, their second album they paint a picture of a thoughtful, contemplative and angry place that lies beneath the good nature and pleasantries. With the place being my second home I can say that from my experience so far, the latter is more true on a day to day basis than the image of the disrespecting meatheads, clinging on the street kerb with their day-glow skin. Lanterns On The Lake present an anger that is casually portrayed in this album of a political nature. One against the current government and of history repeating it’s self. The fact this is portrayed though their shimmering and wistful style makes it all the more potent as well. Whether this can be a worthy follow up from their debut is another question.

The title track opens in a spaced out and wide eyed fashion before being drawn together by the rotating bass line and the gentle reverb from the guitars. The urgency of the percussion maintains a steady rhythm that the guitars glaze over along with the vocal from Hazel that is wistful and easy on the ear if not at all exciting or bold. The steady progression of the song is pulled apart and drawn out into a glowing and gentle atmospheric event for a rather subdued and puzzling conclusion from which you feel like the song has no closure, yet in an odd sense it can work when taking account of song the song is played out, but odd nonetheless. ‘Another Tale From Another English Town’ gently feeds the song in with the soft edged rotating rhythm of the guitars that create acres of space for the percussion and bass to join in. On top of this the strings and vocals are then free to echo and expand their sound being tied down by the percussion and bass. The soft reverbs carry the song onto it’s chorus and give it a sort of muffled kick and always allowing into to fade away into a long and spaced out soundscape with the violin carrying the songs tragic undertones across it and it ultimately closes on that atmospheric note. Lyrically it is far more direct and aggressive as it talks of ‘being sold a thousand lies this year’ or ‘they’re not fit to breathe our air they’ve been warned a thousand times this year’ and generally evokes a sense of being treated as second class citizens as a result of being stereotyped by a minority. The fact these messages are delivered in a solemn and resigned fashion makes it just as powerful.

‘Elodie’ opens the album and commences in a more bolder and bigger way with more open sounding reverbing and laser-like guitars, but still directed around a simple melody. It all too suddenly becomes too bare however, yet this begins to make more sense as the song starts to push it’s self back into an instrumental chorus of erupting riffs. Though the subdued vocal is beautifully recorded, you get the feeling that a little variation in that area wouldn’t go a miss. But the song can’t be faulted at all. ‘Buffalo Days’ is a little more direct with the instrumentals and the vocals but the methods do seem quite linear and at times some isolation of elements in the chorus might improve the song. Despite this is still leans into being a grand, anthemic tune. ‘Picture Show is much more of a bleak ballad to contemplate your own bleak thoughts around and it seems a little less restrained than most tracks off the album. This is where the problems lies for me. Each track on it’s own is beautifully crafted and delicately produced and recorded, but as a whole album the shifts in tone are barely noticeable and this can sort of muffle the underlying messages of some songs. The odd song felt like it was being forced into being refrained and subtle when they could have been real feasts for the senses. Having said this, I think there is a time and a place when this album as a whole can work wonders but not as often as it should. A decent second effort though.

Lanterns On The Lake – Until The Colours Run = 7.5/10 

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