- PROD. BY JOAN WASSER (JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN)
Over eight years, four albums, several EPs, countless
side and solo projects and a clutch of awards, Lau have established
themselves as one of the most forward-thinking exponents of folk music
in the British Isles. Now on album five the band hasn’t so much thrown a
curve ball at the audience as they have at themselves with their latest
and most anticipated release to date.
Produced by Reveal Records alumni Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Policewoman) The Bell That Never Rang
has an all-round freer and more song-orientated feel that has arguably
been borne of the band unshackling themselves from production duties in
the studio and being allowed to focus entirely on their musical craft.
Given that this is Wasser’s first production job on a full album for any
artist other than herself the results are even more remarkable.
Homecoming opens the album with an uncharacteristically breezy flourish
and the now familiar ’tick-tock’ sound of Martin Green’s technical
wizardry. It’s the first and most obvious indication of the
song-focussed structure of the album and sets a powerful tone with Kris
Drever’s impassioned vocal at the forefront of the track.
Hill (Armoured Man) is another highlight as a tip-toe rhythm meanders
into a gentle march and beautifully layered vocals that aren’t a million
miles away from Fleet Foxes in tone. It’s a veritable storybook of a
song throughout its six short minutes and suggests that this is a band
who feel that they’ve still got ideas to burn.
The centrepiece of
the album is the epic title track. A 17 minute opus that opens with a
delicate, orchestral suite courtesy of the Elyisian Quartet before Lau
join in themselves for a windswept journey through a multitude of
soundscapes. A chorus joins late in the piece with a refrain of “nobody
knows where you’ll go and no one thinks to tell you” building to a
crescendo as voice after voice joins the repetition. It’s at times
breathtaking in its content and consistently captivating.
The album closes with long-time live favourite Ghosts which first appeared in experimental form on the Lau vs Adem
EP a few years back. It’s arguably the trio’s finest song to date with
its heart-meltingly melodic chorus finally given the space to breathe
that it warrants.
The Bell That Never Rang is a
startling piece of work and deserves to sit atop an already impressive
back catalogue as the jewel in the crown for this increasingly brilliant
trio. Close the album of the year polls now -we have a winner!