Five years since their last effort, LAMB have returned with their seventh full-length album: The Secret Of Letting Go. Having revisited their acclaimed self titled debut for its 21st anniversary in 2017, LAMB have now attempted to strike new ground with their latest release, a goal, which at times, and despite a decent effort, seems just out of reach.
Sonically speaking, The Secret Of Letting Go is a delight. The production throughout is consistently shiny and full, all the while retaining enough sparseness to allow Lou Rhodes’ vocals to shine through. Standout moments come in the form of tracks such as ‘Deep Delirium’, ‘Armageddon Waits’, ‘Imperial Measures’ and the final track ‘One hand Clapping’.
‘Armageddon Waits’ and ‘One Hand Clapping’ both boast eastern influenced string sections, perhaps informed by the band’s time spent in India during the recording process, adding a distinct sharpness. ‘Imperial Measures’ is again underscored by bouncing strings, that remind one of early Sufjan Stevens records. ‘Deep Delirium’, features a mean jazz arrangement that brings to mind Kid A era Radiohead, specifically ‘The National Anthem’. It’s clear that the unifying element that underpins the success of each of these tracks is the band’s willingness to let themselves experiment musically, and it’s only when they resist this impulse that the rest of the album really falls apart.
For all the ventures into experimentation, The Secret of Letting Go falls again and again falls into cliche, particularly in the trite Instagram lyricism that pervades the entire record. The secret of letting go, it seems, is forgetting to hold on and perhaps the secret of mediocrity is forgetting to focus, and that appears to be the biggest problem for LAMB this time around. The album is littered with oblique references to “moonshine”, “bulletproof love” and “the silence in between”, which leaves it all feeling far too disjointed for there to be any unifying theme other than a vague sense of emptiness. It’s this aimlessness combined with some rather boring, uninspired instrumentation on the rest of the album that leaves one wanting more of the moments of inspired experimentation.
The Secret Of Letting Go is by no means a terrible record; it’s nicely recorded, more than competently put together and contains genuine moments of daring composition. The problem is that these shining moments are all too dulled by the rest of the out of date ideas that glue the album down. Here’s hoping that LAMB allow themselves to truly explore their experimental impulses with future releases, as they could be all the better for it. Alex Harrison