Artist: Lawrence Arabia
Title: The Sparrow
Record Label: Bella Union
Recent Northern Transmissions interviewee Lawrence Arabia is all set to dispatch his latest LP, The Sparrow. This new album has a daunting prospect as it has to follow up the award winning Chant Darling LP. What is instantly noticeable about The Sparrow is how organic the album sounds, the layers of strings, gently strummed guitars and the smattering of brass create a rich collage of textures which is a refreshing alternative to the plethora of synthetic digital missives that are top of the pops these days.
Lawrence Arabia, or James Milne to his doctor, manages to take these varied elements of light and shade and use them as a canvas to paint broad strokes upon. Milne has a vocal style that invokes the greats of British pop music from a tuneful Lennon and McCartney hybrid, to a Ray Davies-esque chirp, all the way to Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian. This applies particularly when Milne is at his most playful and his mischievous side is brought to life with the quizzically titled ‘The Bisexual’ which tells the tale of a man who seems to have unrequited feelings towards another man. “Everyone is a little bit…you know?” illustrates the cheeky side of Milne’s wordplay implying in all of us we’ve gotthe tendency to take a shine to our fellow man or woman. The Sparrow works best when the tracks play out a narrative which ‘Travelling Shoes’ does to great effect documenting a young man yearning for a life of excitement as opposed to the provincial one he occupies.
‘The Bisexual’ leads the charge on the track listing front as Milne has christened a number of his tunes with intriguing titles such as ‘Early Kneecappings’ which isn’t at all as brutal as it sounds.The track has a slow burning drone built on a repetitive piano note and swarm of strings which turn malevolent as the song reaches its climax. ‘Lick Your Wounds’ follows suit but with added brass and occasional burst of falsetto from Milne.
The Sparrow is a record that at times can blend into one long song, this is mainly down to the fact there are few tempo changes and the instrumentation rarely veers from the aforementioned elements.In a nutshell, this is an album that is easy to like but harder to love.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams