October 17, 2008

Lenka - Lenka
Verdict: Like ()
I have a very conflicted view of this album. First, have you heard of Lenka? I don't claim to keep my ear to the track of the Music Train, but even I must recognize the fact that she, Lenka Kripac, has been getting a lot of press sense about 2004 when her band Decoder Ring put out the soundtrack to the film Somersault. Since then she took a trip to LA with a brand new deal with EPIC and out comes this new album ... Well now even the New York Times is talking about her.

Now, I understand myself well enough that I know that I can sometimes be a "hater," thinking the stereotypical modernist thought that if it's popular, it must be trash. I know this isn't true, because bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and artists like Dan Deacon can, in their own right, be considered popular. And apparently there were a few bands from the 60's that a lot of people tend to like that actually were pretty interesting and talented. So I went into the album with a myriad of mixed feelings and assumptions, but what's new about that, right?

My first impression was that it was basically a Feist rip off, but quickly remembered that I was supposed to be giving this album a chance, and let down my guard to see if it would take my willing soul on a bit of a ride. Did it work? Well, kind of I guess. Some songs were fairly sweet and fun. Well, actually every song is nearly Motown-Sweet, but without the lack of soul (i.e. these songs sound honest). There is a large amount of honesty behind these songs, it seems (I say that because there's really no way for me, personally to know. this is the leap I must take as a music consumer I guess). But I can't get over the fact that a lot of the songs sound very Feist-influenced and kind of throw-away pop-ish. There is this throw-away quality about it, but then there's something deeper (I assume this to be the honest quality about the songs) that drags me back.

Here's my theory: Lenka is a damn good songwriter, but just that doesn't make it in today's market, and labels like EPIC are most certainly looking out for the bottom line (not saying I'm blaming them or anything, they're just people too, I mean, to reference Motown again, Motown's creator has gone on record as saying he was in it for the money, so music purely for the money is no new concept), so they're going to shape her sound to fit what sells. They probably didn't force it on her, and she probably was willing to go with their suggestions, heck, I doubt she doesn't like what she put out there, it is a well shaped album, and she should be damn proud, because she sounds Awesome. BUT, I can't deny the fact that there are these qualities about it that make me a little ... I dunno ... cautious? I think I would prefer to hear these songs played in an intimate setting with little to no backing band, because the songs, to me, would sound SO much more genuine. But that's not to say I don't recommend this album. I think that whether or not you like this album is based purely on you. Try it:

Lenka - Bring Me Down
Lenka - Trouble is a Friend of Mine
Lenka - Dangerous and Sweet


Anonymous said...

You said: "I think that whether or not you like this album is based purely on you."

Isn't that true for any album??
I've never liked or disliked music for, or because of, anyone else.

Luke Hunter James-Erickson said...

you what anonymous person? you're absolutely right. my statement was rather ignorant.