close your eyes
 
[music, albums]

XXXII: 2002 Lambchop - Is a Woman


Lambchop - Is A Woman

It has been mentioned in the comments, 2002 was a great year for music. I wonder if it has to do with 9/11. As if historical watershed years catalyse the best in the auditory arts. The albums I liked most are all rather reserved and introspective. Antidotes to the political mess we got in. Often otherworldly (Beth Gibbons, Hayden, Low) and/or melancholically melodic (Montgolfier Brothers, Okkervil River, Tom Liwa). Jane Birkin set a counterpoint to the politics of a certain superpower by rearranging the Gainsbourg tunes she cannot get over with an Arabian orchestra (the first song Elisa sounds better than the original). Wilco and Suicide obviously deal with the new disorder of the world. Both albums are musically unoriginal but the mix of ingredients is very inventive and extremely listenable. American Supreme is my favourite dance album of 2002. I know that is a bit inappropriate but my body is stronger than my mind. Rev's cheap beats together with Vega's echoing animal voice are totally my bag.

Lambchop's album is like the antithesis to American Supreme (and my 2001 fave, Radiohead's timely nightmarish chef d'œuvre Amnesiac). Instead of an absolutely justified paranoia in the industrial wasteland we have the calm and warmth of a pastoral countryside landscape. It also sounds minimal but that is a delusion. Is a Woman is a masterpiece of understatement and the subtle use of instruments. One of the few albums which sound better if you listen to it on low volume. The three basic components are the piano, loads of different guitars and Kurt Wagner's raspy sprechgesang. He hardly ever breaks into falsetto and when he does like at the end of The New Cobweb Summer it is not embarrassing at all. Kurt was a friend of the late Richard Brautigan. And somehow his music emanates the same kind of innocence and fragility as Brautigan's lovely surreal books written from the perspective of a down to earth naïveté. With the open eyes of a child which is discovering this strange world without adult prejudices. This kind of puts the focus back on the simple things which matter. And go under in the media noise.

My favourite bit of the lyrics is at the end of the opener The Daily Growl:

but i guess it's right
to love the girls who fight
off our manly acts of desperation

By the way the bonus disc with three extra songs is gorgeous as well. A rare thing nowadays. Some people would call this album chill-out but that's totally off the mark. Heart-warming in chilly times, yes.

Here is the overview of the series 40 years, 40 albums of which part XXXII was this post.


 





 
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