Review : Lorelei Enterprising - Sidewalks
PitchforkThe Slumberland Records revival that's been happening over the past few years is a story of past and present. Renewed interest in the label is partially due to a new generation of bands (the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Crystal Stilts, Veronica Falls) that have put out solid records on the California-by-way-of-D.C. imprint; it's also been kindled by reunion shows like Slumberland's 20th anniversary concerts and this year's Chickfactor 20 gigs.
But even in the midst of all this nostalgia and revisiting, certain gems of the label's back catalog remain unplundered. One such record is 1995's Everyone Must Touch the Stove, which up until now was the sole LP from Washington, D.C.-area trio Lorelei. It remains overlooked because it doesn't quite fit the narrative: In most corners, "Slumberland" is still considered a synonym for "dreamy" or even "twee," but the immersive Stove is full of creeping, diffuse post-rock nightmares. Still, the fact that Lorelei haven't been one of the touchstones of the label's revival and continued influence shouldn't come as much of a surprise: they were misunderstood in their (very brief) heyday, too. In a 2009 interview, guitarist/singer Matt Dingee recalled something that happened when the Wedding Present's David Gedge, a demigod of the early-90s indie pop circle, caught a Lorelei show. After their set, Gedge said to him, "I like your guitar sounds and everything, but for me it's about writing songs."...full text
AvclubThe recent resurgence of Slumberland Records—both as an influence and an actual label—has been a strange one. During Slumberland’s ’90s heyday, none of its bands broke through to the mainstream. In fact, the fey, shoegazing, often Anglophilic sound of its roster barely resonated with the indie underground back then. That changed when revivalists like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart helped resurrect Slumberland—but it’s been just as interesting to see old Slumberland bands shake off their, well, slumber and attempt comebacks. Especially Lorelei. The Washington, D.C. outfit was part of Slumberland’s first wave in the early ’90s, although it was never the label’s most popular representative. Even then, the band drew as much from atmospheric ’80s post-punk—mostly of the 4AD variety—than it did shoegaze swirl or twee jangle.
It’s a fine distinction, but that twist has lent a surprising freshness to Enterprising Sidewalks, Lorelei’s first album since 1995. The disc opens with “Hammer Meets Tongs,” and its jarring, icy chords—not to mention its deadpan harmonies—signal a return to form. At the same time, it sounds almost alienating, an anachronism within an anachronism. Which only makes it more thrilling when the album stumbles across pockets of drifting timelessness, like the pillowy “Dismissal Conversation.” With a faint, bossa-nova pulse that bears shades of Stereolab, the track is sculpted out of space and ice, either a ghost of memory or a vision of the future. And on “Three Interlocking Screens,” smears of guitar ambience and chiming, lonely vocals evoke 154-era Wire—that is, as glimpsed through a downpour. It’s post-punk, only with the angles blunted and the edges blurred. As a whole, the album puts the Slumberland sound into a new context, even as it brings it full-circle; by wallowing on beauty, dislocation, dreaminess, melancholy, and flashes of aggression, it’s a reminder of why Lorelei snubbed indie rock’s slacker ethic of the ’90s—and why the band’s frigid lushness is just as out of place, and just as fresh, today. As comebacks go, Enterprising Sidewalks is a modest one. Then again, on Lorelei terms, that’s a raging, fist-pumping success. ...full text
CmjWith a smack of distorted guitar noise here and a slap of echo-heavy vocals there, Lorelei makes a successful post-rock comeback with its new album, Enterprising Sidewalks. This is the band’s first release in about 18 years, but it seems that the Slumberland veterans have no trouble picking up from where they left off on 1994′s Everyone Must Touch The Stove. While never abandoning that ’90s slacker aesthetic, the Washington, DC, threesome remain unpredictable, twisted and complex.
Recorded with friends Archie Moore (Velocity Girl, Black Tambourine), Ben Bailes (Chessie) and mixed by Guy Fixsen (My Bloody Valentine, Moose, Laika), Enterprising Sidewalks is a multi-layered listen. The album opens with a two-second drum intro in the album’s first single, “Hammer Meets Tongs.” The song quickly leads to some hard-hitting guitars and detached vocals, with Matt Dingee singing, “This is the special public life/Of an enterprising sidewalk.” Full of interchanging melodic patterns and unexpected twists, the song is at its best when they ditch the dry vocals and allow the dreamy and distorted instrumentals to build into a satisfying conclusion.
Lorelei keeps pummeling through with “Majority Stakes.” As soon as Davis White hits that first drum, there is no turning back. A serious song with real movement, its killer bassline and relentless drums make it hard for you to catch a breath. Showing some real emotion this time around, Dingee lets all his anger out as his looming cries warn, “This is the end/And it’s only just begun.” Spiraling into pure fuzz, there is no resolution for “Majority Stakes.”...full text
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