Album Review: Lost Left ‘Levollinen’
Gorgeous is a word I try not to toss off lightly, but I think it’s an appropriate term for Lost Left’s debut LP Levollinen. The release is one that achieves an astonishing richness for a trio. Their sound is vaporous, as if born within the London fog from which the band calls home.
The tracks flow into one another, without any real distinction from one to the next. Rather than provide the listener with specific stopping points, we’re supposed relax in the lulls and snap to attention when the band asserts itself. That’s not to say the songs don’t translate individually, they do. But the album works best when digested as a complete thought.
The vocals are as much a fourth instrument as a source of any concrete narrative. Lead singer Ben Pritchard tends to work more as an abstract painter than a storyteller, offering the listener motifs in exchange for plot.
The bass line hums, hopping beneath driving drums and splashing cymbals, combining to serve as the engine of the opening track “Thank You For The Lung,” a bold statement piece to kick off the album. This is serious music for serious listeners.
They’ll smother you and they’ll cover you up / They’ll take you apart and they’ll earn their gold / From your body parts / As if, as if, as if… / You needed them
The second track, “Caves,” would have been an apt title for the entire release. The mood here, as elsewhere on the album, is cavernous, with reverb heavy vocals bouncing off the walls in all directions. This song sounds as if it was written in a cistern. The track is similar to the more expansive side of Fleet Foxes, without the nod to the Beach Boys or 1960s folk. The song erupts into a rocker, with rollicking snares and distorted power chords sending the listener off into a resounding outro.
I would argue that the album peaks with the fourth track, “Ferdinand Cheval.” A beautifully simple guitar riff serves as the introduction to this slow dance. The song takes its name from a 19th century French postman. Cheval spent the bulk of his life creating the Palais idéal. He began building in 1879 when he tripped over a stone and found himself inspired by its shape. The next day, Cheval returned to the same spot and began gathering. Pritchard sings:
It’ll take me years / It’ll take me years / There will be no other home / No other home / And on the way back, I couldn’t wait / Couldn’t wait to see / The gathering stones / That I made / They’re ideal / They’re ideal / You can bury me / Right here
For the next 33 years, Cheval would pick up stones during his rounds as a postman, returning each night to work beneath the light of an oil lamp on the construction of his palace. Though Cheval had requested to be buried within, he knew that French law made such a dream an impossibility. So he spent an additional eight years building a mausoleum in the Hauterives cemetery. He died in 1924, about a year after he had finished the mausoleum. Cheval rests there to this day,
This is the type of weighty material that Lost Left attempts to tackle on Levollinen. Many would argue that such pursuits are pretentious, and that sentiment certainly has its merits. However, there is something admirable about an attempt to translate the Palais idéal into a six-minute song, and the results are certainly rewarding for those willing to give the material a chance.
As is painfully obvious, I adore this release. From a musical standpoint, Lost Left has not reinvented the wheel. The arrangements, though voluminous, are rarely complex. The strength of this album is discovered when the listener peers beyond the surface and wrestles with the bold themes beneath. Listen to Levollinen in its entirety below. Downloads are available via Bandcamp, and CDs may be ordered upon request.
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Written by Rob Peoni
Levellinen is excellent. A solid album.
Thanks for reading Russell! They’re one of my favorite discoveries this year.