Album Review: Lambchop - FLOTUS
By Devon Hannan, Features Editor
[City Slang; 2016]
Key Tracks: "In Care of 8675309," "Writer," "NIV"
Taking a step back from their traditional alt-country sound, Lambchop’s newest release, FLOTUS, takes a stab at something far more electronic and outside of their comfort zone. Kurt Wagner experiments with different instrumentation all while revamping his unstated, yet direct, vocals. While this move may not be tasteful for some, it’s not bad by any stretch of the word. Unfortunately, it is absolutely unmoving. FLOTUS may in fact seem like a lackluster carbon copy of this year’s stellar previous releases.
Lambchop’s album clearly takes elements from Bon Iver’s latest release, 22, A Million. Kurt Wagner’s voice is auto-tuned, making his falsettos that much airier and light. FLOTUS also progresses away from that traditional folky sound, into a slightly electronic limbo. Highlights include “In Care of 8675309,” a groovy and delicately formulated track with progressive lyricism and “The Writer,” which features a taste of twang.
FLOTUS begins and ends with the longest tracks on the album, each with a duration reaching well into the double digits. Although these tracks are structurally very sound and well produced, they don’t provide intense build, making them drag and seem unnecessarily long. In fact, that tends to be the general trend of the album in its entirety. These tracks aren’t comparable to other long namesakes, such as Sufjan Steven's “Impossible Soul,” and as reviewers, we should stop immediately associating long form tracks to “masterpieces.”
Each track on this album coincides with the others very well, almost too well for that matter. The variation between tracks is very minute, thus not allowing for much instrumental or vocal diversity. While FLOTUS introduces new instruments that Lambchop themselves haven’t experimented with before, they still lack differentiation within and tend to carry the same beat track to track.
While FLOTUS further solidifies Lambchop’s versatility as a band, it doesn’t really do much else. It lacks much needed variation, making the band’s 12th studio album almost boring and forgettable.