Building on the skin-crawling ‘Teen Tapes’ trilogy, Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys deliver a pensive, unsettling, heavy but brilliantly conceived Gothic, art-pop album in ‘Heaving’.
During their terrific Tapes trilogy – which includes 2020’s Sleeping Tapes For Some Girls, 2021’s Transit Tapes (For Women Who Move Furniture Around) , and last year’s Teen Tapes (For Performing Your Own Stunts) – Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys turned stark and pensive music into a skin-crawling, spine-tingling experience. The Gothic-folk approach was not the only thing that was unsettling, as the South African-born Kruger took listeners inside the mind of a person that was starting a new life in a new country. Excitement, anxiety, elation, yearning, hope, and regret were all brilliantly captured in each LP. Kruger’s stories, however, continued, and, thus, the trilogy has become a tetralogy with the arrival of Heaving.
The fourth album in the series picks up where Teen Tapes left off, which is the protagonist settling in her new home and making connections with the people, places, and things around her. With stability also comes experimentation, which is heard in the album’s more expansive sound, as well as honesty, which is told in Kruger’s stories. A heavy, Depeche Mode-like darkness rattles through the album’s opener, “Auditorium”, on which Kruger’s voice rises and falls several octaves. “Do you a snake spitting / A slit unstitching,” she asks with a venomous bite, describing the isolation one person feels within the crowd. Even in the arms of another, as told on the brooding “Heaving”, the feeling of seclusion remains. Or in this case, it is desire, as Kruger seductively sings, “I wanna to be hot and helpless / In the forest of our form.”
Kruger & The Lost Boys begin to tread deeper into new territory on the album’s middle tracks. A heavy, Gothic mood consumes “Howl”, but the approach is denser, eerier, and more widescreen than previous LKTLB tunes. It also bellows with more emotion – literally, Kruger’s voice wails, as she releases the pent-up pain, desperation, and yearning that consumes her heart and soul. “You’re beautiful / I want to be useful / I want to scream,” she hollers. Conversely, “Stereoscope” is devouring. Methodical yet hypnotic, soft percussion stutters in the background while a lingering guitar and bass solemnly slow dance. Kruger’s smokey voice is unhurried and delivered like a whisper. She poetically reveals how she is suffocating and blinded from the weight of pressure and anxiety, and the only way she can see is through the eyes of another.
“Burning Building” represents the band fully entering new territory. Through an approach that can be best described as rah-rah, Gothic-pop, Kruger and violinist Jean-Louise Parker shout, “Hey girl! Let’s go!” The chant is Glee-like pop, but the song does not stay entirely in this realm, as Kruger’s voice pierces. She directs her anger at the material world, which has turned authenticity into an endangered species. Kruger realizes she isn’t immune to the material world’s effects, as she reveals on the rapturous “Feedback Hounds”. With a hushed approach as a violin and electric guitar murmur in the background, Kruger admits that she’s “a cheat”, “a child”, and “a charlatan”, who seeks to have her friends kiss her mouth. She also seeks to have every desire fulfilled, as explained on the one-two punch of the slow-burning yet enthralling “Front Row” and the mysteriously cinematic “Tender”.
This turbulent, whirlwind experience comes to a close on “Undress”, which is a beautifully desolate number. Methodically and slowly, the rhythms pulse while a shimmering guitar echoes in the distance and another chimes in the foreground. Kruger, meanwhile, patiently sings, and her words are like the last strokes found in a journal’s final pages. All the emotions shared in the original Teen Tapes trilogy are captured in the track’s five minutes, particularly when Kruger sings:
“It’s better when you’re here you know
But I’m so scared of being left alone
That sometimes it feels I might just ask you to go
To stop the fear in my heart that feeds on the hope”
Her words leave the door open to a fifth entry into the series. Should this happen, Lucy Kruger (vocals, guitar), Liú Mottes (guitar), André Leo (guitar), Andreas Miranda (bass), Gidon Carmel, (drums, percussion and electronic production), and Jean-Louise Parker (backing vocals, viola, violin) likely will continue to rattle minds with their unsettling yet masterful experimentation.
Heaving is out on Unique Records and Polish Schubert Music Europe. Purchase it on Bandcamp or at these links.
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