Album: This is Lorelei – Box for Buddy, Box for Star

This album is a slippery thing. It’s so full of ideas and dreams that it could easily slide through your fingers; it seems to glow- its facets catching the light strangely. And yet, (and this is its underlying magic) although it provides so many ideas all at once, it still feels – undeniably, wonderfully –  like a fully formed thing too; that’s a rare thing. This album is a rare thing indeed. Box for Buddy, Box for Star is an exceptional work of art- if you’ve not heard it yet, rise up from your stupor! You are in for a treat. 

Nate Amos is a sly devil though;  beginning the whole wonderful thing with Angel’s Eye is a cunning move- as it’s a song that’s as gorgeous as it is deceptive; “Ah! This is a country-folk masterclass…” you might understandably say to yourself- all vintage swing, spiritualist melodies and No More Auction Block associations. And if the rest of the album followed suit it would still be a delight. But no, different delights await. Perfect Hand,  the second song, leaps out in response and shakes you buy the lapels; “…Don’t be a fool,” it whispers, “there’s always more to life than simply surface!” It begins with a deliciously propulsive beat and curiously hypnotic electronic textures, and initially feels like a brand new artist at work (though in the context of the album is anything but). And it’s superb- reminding me of when Mark Oliver Everett branched out sonically under the MC Honky pseudonym. It’s fun but it’s also serious, and it’s also seriously good too, the repeated, “Yeah”s immediately lodging within the mind; god this is good, it got even my weary corpus moving! 

Things continue to mesmerise… I’m All Fucked Up is a superb exercise in driving Velvets strut- effortless and full of remarkable narrative twists and turns that build and break. My Boy Limbo Feels more minimal – piano notes twinkling in strange shapes like misplaced stars. It’s oddly reminiscent of Gratitude, the opening track of Bjork’s Drawing Restraint 9 soundtrack, and no less beautiful as a result. Where’s Your Love Now is a masterclass in indie-pop songwriting – a melody that takes slow hold and doesn’t let go, glockenspiels dancing and a woozy ambience permeating all- its mellotron-driven coda evoking the instrumental cult  oddity, Journey Through A Thousand Meditations, by Edmond S. Bordeaux and Norma Jean Nilsson. The reference points on this album are as beguiling as they are esoteric. I’ll say it again: god, this is good. 

The title track is a glorious, twangy, banjo-driven stomp, existing in an early Beck time-warp but with another melody that entwines around the heart, mind and soul, ending with a surprising and direct piano instrumental – that haunts the song with spectral quietude. A Song That Sings About You  is rich in Neutral Milk Hotelesque, fuzzed-up energies and lyricisms – those interjecting power chords echoing Baba O’Riley’s pomp in ways that are as surprising, ridiculous and as wonderful as possible. Two Legs is the most Elliott Smith indebted track on the album, the vocals all Figure 8 melodiousness and laid-bare emotion, the musicianship as tight as ever throughout.  But even though it shares that familiar sound world, it’s still an utterly breathtaking piece of work in its own right- set apart by a use of language that is entirely its own.  

Yes… The words on this album are an absolute marvel; I don’t think I’ve experienced something so expansive, complex and maze-like whilst being surrounded by such hook-laden and direct indie-pop songwriting in a long time. This isn’t avant-garde – these are pop songs essentially- but they exist in a new sonic space, inhabit a new identity, through these vast displays of eloquent and original versification. He’s a master of his very particular craft and what a joy it is to marvel in his creation’s magnificence. 

This album should become a part of your life. It will be better for it. Call this an act of benevolence: just go out and buy it. 

Written by M.A Welsh (Misophone) 

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