The first thing you notice with Little Lapin's "Holding out for the kicks" is the visually striking front cover. It is a busy and overflowing work, adorned with lavish symbols that get your attention. Your eyes are drawn to the bright red tearful individual in the middle of the album cover which feels like it will lead to a polarising view of the artist. The artwork is individualistic, it feels like she has invested in it, some will find it idiosyncratic and unique, others will be just baffled. One thing that is clear is that is contemporary in appearance, but is the album equally relevant? First let us consider Little Lapin, as an artist through the choices made.
As of July 2016, Little Lapin is on UK tour. but the album actually lives and breathes the West Coast or even Long Island of the USA in feel. It is her second release following on from a previous "Remember the Highs", voted "Best Album of 2015" by Unsigned and Independent Music Magazine, so she has crafted and built from her previous work. This album is recorded in Antenna Studios, London and whether it is the music style or the numerous references to trying to make a living and make something out of nothing (gratuity is a pretty much a waitress song) it is a fairly hopeful album. Once again, Long Island comes to mind as it plays like a storyboard in the show The Affair with the artist being like a sun-specked Ruth Wilson amongst the powerful American sun. The album could be mostly considered as an alt-Country look at the lived experience of moving to a new town and making ends meet. In direct contrast to the Lynchian horizons of Lana Del Ray, this is blue collared class in the sun-drenched soils of highway diners rather than the concrete patios and pools of successful America; and is all the more interesting for it.
There are some incredibly atmospheric and lightly cutting tracks within, and it does this while retaining it's sense of optimism. Little Lapin's character here isn't screaming down the house in annoyance and self-indulgence, she firmly carries the quintessentially American philosophy of there being a silver-lining and equal opportunity to succeed when things come together. The album is as good an example of that as anything and the lack of pretension is a very welcome quality.
The opening track, "Californian Sun" is a a surf rock laden song where the singer is calling out in a moment of clarity through the sub-tropical, twilight haze, "somethings got to give, if you want your freedom... if you wanna live". It is a song of possibility and the early vision of opportunity that is there for the taking for everyone, "The California son it burns bright for everyone". The guitars shape a grimy yet optimistic take of the world- the heat blows in your face but the day is not over yet. Her voice is like a modern Sheryl Crow, some rock elements but more contemporary with a descriptive, poetic, and somewhat digging voice. There is a nicely-tinged reverb giving the whole album a bit of a dream-like quality such as from a lightly delirious person in the desert sun which makes it awash with character.
"Lovers Gate" is a bit different, a lightly melancholic but extremely melodic tune. It also so slightly euphoric and like all good modern music gets itself lost within it's feelings and emotions. It is expansive, like the sky and.turns, like the fear before the apocalypse, "if it all goes away, meet you at the lover's gate" Casting a visage of negative freedoms, it makes you think of the inevitable negative freedoms of social media platforms as there is a theme of judgement hanging over the young subjects.
"Gratuity" on the other hand in different, kind of like a reflective plea. It has the character of a struggle in low-paid work (such as waitressing) and tip collection. However is seems like a more karmic experience as the other tips it describes feel like spiritual processes with the idea of giving thanks being both material and metaphysical, "I didn't know that kindness came with a fee". The song itself is like the experience of busking the same song for many years, the feeling of being on the street and a slight repetitive feeling as the song takes you to a difficult position much like the character of the piece. It is like waiting for something to happen, the big break to come but instead the person is eternally being caught in the moment without progression
"Birchanger Blues" is a belter of a track. It is delightfully sung in the scratchy tradition of blues with a touch of beatnik and pop influence. It is kind of angry, kind of forward thinking and an incredibly warm, enjoyable track. Little Lapin sounds like she is rocking out a garage gig with boundless energy and is good as a feel-good number. One of my favourites on the album.
Throughout all the tracks, the lyrics are moderately complex with a balance of not being too shallow but also with some song hooks attached to some fearsome melodies. There are some reflective thoughts within but it is not overly analytical as it allows the listener to soak in the sun, and atmosphere being created; and in fairness there is a nice amount of variety here. I like the slight roughness, the interplay of the dream-like tracks and the more poppy numbers, and the warm, sometimes grainy guitar adds a lot of character. She is a little Country-Rock and a little Indie, somewhat American. Hard to define fully it matters not, Little Lapin is an artist to enjoy and keep your ears on.
|Lizabett Russo: The Burning Mountain||Kim Edgar: Stories Untold|
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