Sometimes the way we classify and typify bands and sounds and try to put names to certain styles or movements really turns me off. Words like “Emo” and “Screamo“ and “Nugaze” and “Chillwave” and “Folktronica” just make me shake my head. I get it. And these terms often do aptly describe the music they are meant to represent. However, if I had heard the term “Folktronica”, for instance, in reference to Lanterns on the Lake before listening to their debut album, “Gracious tide, take me home”, I might never have picked it up.
As it stands right now, I don’t actually remember at all how I came across them. In 2011, I was listening to everything that was being released, an exercise in futile mass consumption that was initiated by a fledgling blog. I all of a sudden felt that I had to have my finger even more fully pressed down hard on the pulse of music, everything new and hip. It was futile because there’s just too much out there and I was forced to decide whether I liked something in fewer samples, one or two go arounds, rather than five or six. I was also discovering bands in bunches, which meant I wasn’t always getting the time I wanted with each album before I was on to the next. I’ve been trying to remedy this in the last couple of years, since putting that old blog to bed and starting afresh, to go back to spend more time with albums that did stick out amongst the rest and give them their due. “Gracious tide, take me home” is one of these and I’ve so been looking forward to spending more time with it to write this post.
Lanterns on the Lake are a five-piece from Newcastle-on-Tyne that has released three studio albums in total, a live album, and a handful of EPs since their formation in 2007. They recently toured in support of one of my very favourite bands, James, and by all accounts, they got on quite well. Listening to both bands, this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Like James, Lanterns on the Lake doesn’t just write music, as much as build it. Their sound is very atmospheric and big and beautiful.
“Lungs quicken”, the album opener, is a prime of example of what I speak. It’s washes of synths, a subdued electronic beat and the hint of strings. Lead vocalist Hazel Wilde lightly touches her brush to the canvas, breathy and whispery, a tinkling of keys. It makes you think that their name is perfect. Candles in paper lanterns, hundreds of them, maybe thousands, just visible in the mist out on the grey lake. And then the wind whips up, the music builds in volume and gusto, and the lanterns jostle on the waves, crashing and splashing but not going out. At five and a half minutes, “Lungs quicken” does just that, light breathing becomes breathless and just when you think you have to give up, it ends, leaving you wanting to start all over again.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.