tue 23/07/2024

CD: Lamb - 5 | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lamb - 5

CD: Lamb - 5

Live reunion followed by studio album that picks up where they left off

Lamb's '5': reunited, but largely business as usual at the trip-hop/chill-out nexus

Between 1996 and the earliest years of the 21st century, the Manchester-based duo Lamb defined a moody, ambient, dance-influenced pop – the trip-hop/chill-out nexus. "Górecki", their 1997 chart single, will always be their most well-known moment. Lamb played what was announced back then as their final live show in 2004. But Andy Barlow and Lou Rhodes reunited for a slew of festival dates in 2009.

Both had been working solo, and 5 is the first recorded evidence of their second life.

Rhodes’s voice is smokier than before, fuller, more rounded and less likely to dance around the melody line. A defining Lamb trait remains - opening songs with a quiet, skeletally arranged refrain that beds Rhodes - heard to greatest effect on the 2001 single “Gabriel”. Instrumentation then arrives, filling the song out. Glitchiness is added like hundreds and thousands. Such is much of 5. “Rounds” ditches the template, building on the folky sound of Rhodes’s solo albums taking Lamb into This Mortal Coil/late-Slowdive territory. Equally striking is her way with words. “Butterfly Effect” opens, “Come and shine your light on me honey bee/ And we’ll take a trip to heaven exponentially”.

The album officially ends with a bonus track. It’s co-written and co-sung by Damien Rice. It's like a Hollywood-soundtrack version of Lamb. It’s terrible and followed by an uncredited, unlisted instrumental.

5 is a comfort-zone conformation of what Lamb are about. It’s not an entry point, it's a continuation. Business is largely as usual. Whatever musical developments occurred during their 2004 to 2009 inter-regnum have had no impact on Lamb, even with dubstep’s kinship to trip hop. Even if - in the wake of The xx and now with Emeli Sandé - we’re experiencing a trip hop revival, Lamb neophytes should start at album one, and work their way towards 5.

Watch the video for 5's opening cut, “Another Language”

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