Sophomore album from New York resident pushes sound forward whilst not losing charm from the debut
Eight albums in eight years is good going. Hell, the Beatles only managed seven in seven before threw in the towel. So in one way Aly Spaltro AKA Lady Lamb is already doing better than the Beatles. For the sake of my reputation I think I’ll leave the Beatles alone for now and get back to the main event, Lady Lamb’s new album After.
2013 saw the release of Spaltro’s ‘official’ debut Ripely Pine. It was an hour of folk tinged snapshots and heavier numbers, both showcasing Spaltro’s flair not only for melody, but for lyrical content. Now she’s returned with After. Open track Vena Cava starts off with a retro rock and roll feel, this is a bit different, then the chorus get all raucous and it feels like a different song. But as soon as it started shouting in your face, the verse kicks in again and there are psychedelic tinges to it. This is a motif that carries on through the whole album. Just when you think you’ve got it work out, Spaltro changes the script. Billions of Eyes is a stomper, but lyrically it’s touching and through provoking, which its boisterous nature shields from you until you’ve given time to decipher its code. Stand out track Violet Clementine feels like being capitulated into a surreal dream about animals, featuring a Russian rhythm section, psych zither and marching brass band. It sounds like Danger Mouse producing Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass! Just as you’ve got your head around what you’ve heard so far it changes again with Heretic. Choruses of neo-shoegazing guitars rub shoulders with lo-fi surf verses, all the while Spaltro’s vocals find a way to cut through it and deliver one of the best vocal performances on the album.
I could go on in this vein describing the album and its diversity, but where would the fun be in that? It would leave nothing for you to do, apart from either agree with my capitulations or denounce me and my ability to only scratch the surface of something that is a cleverly produced and densely layered album.
Overall After is a solid work, considering her impressive output Spaltro is showing no signs of flagging. The only real downside is that ten to fifteen minutes could easily be cut to keep our collective interest, especially near the end, when it starts to drag a bit. While the slower songs showcase Spaltro’s ability not just to write bangers, their sequencing doesn’t quite work with the albums flow. This being said, After shows a progression in Spaltro’s song writing and that’s the ultimate winner here. What comes after, after? For now I guess on Spaltro knows that.