LUMP, the mysterious Indie / Folktronica collaboration between Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay, returned just over a month ago with their sophomore record 'Animal'. Having been blown away by the production and persistent intrigue that their debut album offered, the three year wait for the follow up was a long one as I hoped in anticipation that they would deliver a similarly captivating sound when they returned, and they sure did! Their new album boasts the same harmonic blend of electronic twists and turns, rich and full flavoured acoustics and the ethereal yet powerful force of Marling's vocals. Yet, it perhaps spends less time on detours into abstract soundscapes and focuses more on building these melodic Indie grooves, with the title track 'Animal' and the single 'We Cannot Resist' offering the best examples of this. Although the album is a strong one on record, it is one that is centered around production, with countless different sounds throughout every track. Thus, I was intrigued to see how they would manage to translate this into a live setting.
The pair handled this task well, recruiting two extra members to give the full effect of the album and bringing an extra acoustic resonance to bounce around the venue. The first thing that struck me was how they had managed to re-produce their distinctive bass tone. Perhaps I hadn't even apprenticed just how pivotal it is to their sound, yet this thick, indulgent bass reverberated through every person in the crowd and provided a really dense bed of sound for the rest of the music to sit on top of. In terms of the sounds that they couldn't reproduce acoustically, they still captured most of these, most importantly the piercing brass slap announcement in 'Rolling Thunder'. This was all thanks to the incredible and at some times possessed work ethic of Mike Lindsay. On stage he became a mechanical animal, bouncing between synths and keys, turning knobs and pressing buttons in a visually erratic but sonically precise frenzy whilst all the while trying to control his own refined guitar playing. He worked as one with the live band. You could often see the wild look in Lindsay's eyes as he stared at them attempting to synchronize the intricate instrumentation.
With Lindsay covering the textural work, Marling was free to showcase the voice that has earned her so much recognition included a GRAMMY nomination in the past. It is both haunting and hypnotic, both gentle and rousing all at once. The smooth rumble of "Kids on the run" from 'We Cannot Resist' and the crisp high pitched tone in 'Curse of the Contemporary' demonstrated her vocal flexibility. Meanwhile her on stage presence was a calm one, in stark contrast to Lindsay. At times she seemed somewhat detached from the words she was emitting. However, this is not to say that her passion was not within, it was merely an effect of her almost other worldly character and ethereal vocal delivery.
The two forces of Lindsays instrumentals and electronic soundscapes blended with Marling's vocals combined perfectly, most notably in my personal highlight of the night, the debut album track 'Shake Your Shelter'. As the thick, dreamy opening gave way to a rare moment of vocal isolation, Laura Marling silenced the entire room with the phenomenal power and precision of her delivery. The track then ended with a thumping Rock display as the instrumentals took over and shot the track into a realm that LUMP never really step into on their studio recordings. It was refreshing to see two artists who clearly appreciated the differences between a recorded and a live setting thus, rather than just replicating their tracks, they used the solid base of their recorded songs and stretched them on all corners, pushing them into new territories of all kinds. On the whole it felt like the live set was pushing the LUMP project to its extremities, the bliss even more blissful, the grooves even groovier and the emotions even more tangible as they treated LUMP the only way you can, as a living, breathing, mechanical beast.