What does it sound like?:
[Disclaimer: this was sent to be by @bargepole to review.]
I am not a huge fan of Lambchop; I have three of their albums, including the acclaimed ’Nixon’, which I like but I don’t find it to be essential listening. Given those caveats, I was still curious about this, given their heavily –signalled recent musical influences.
In this context ‘FLOTUS’ means ‘For Love Often Turns Us Still’, and the album focuses on reflections on a long marriage. Kurt Wagner has said that he partly intended the album to contain songs his wife would like. ‘FLOTUS’ is full of hypnotic, loopy beats, with a definite hip-hop and R&B feel.
It begins with a lengthy track, the mid-paced ‘In Care of 8675309’ featuring Auto-Tuned vocals (as does most of the album).It’s a really lovely track, and has a more traditional hazy, Americana texture. The lyrics are hard to interpret but are seemingly contemplative, and there is a sweetness and warmth here.
‘The Hustle’ is the last track and the most interesting, being all of 18 minutes long. There is an instrumental intro for about 5 minutes and it ends with an electronic, staccato and choppy section, with the story of a Quaker wedding in the middle. The repeated ‘Do the Hustle’ towards the end ups the tempo, and there’s a touching piano solo in there somewhere. These contrasts suggest that it shouldn’t hold together, but it does, nicely.
Essentially the middle tracks are connectors between the more affecting opener and closer, and somewhat wash over you in a pleasant and comforting way. This doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement to listen which is a shame, as it does cohere as an album.
Overall, if you’re inclined to let the words ’electronica’ and ‘Vocoder’ put you off, resist this impulse – there is a warmth here that overlays the bleeps. There’s space here too; the longer tracks stretch out beautifully and don’t become cluttered or overwhelmed by the electronica.
This is a more lukewarm review than I would have liked to have written, but it’s only really the first and last tracks that significantly affected me. I’d love to hear a fan’s view….anyone?
What does it all *mean*?
Auto-Tune is Cool.
Lambchop continue to please and surprise. Mildly.
Goes well with…
Really listen to the first track, then potter about doing something else for a while, then come back to ‘The Hustle’ and sit down and listen properly again.
Might suit people who like…
Yo La Tenga
Kendrick Lamar (I’m serious.)