Album & Live Review: LUMP – Band On The Wall, Manchester

Photo Credit: Mathew Parri & Esteban Diacono

Last Sunday night, a tribe of Manchester’s most keen and curious residents overlooked the bellowing sunshine and flocked towards the darkest room in the city; prepared and excited to immerse themselves in the dystopic haze that LUMP was set to create. Audience members were treated to an intense rendition of the surrealist product of Mike Lindsay and Laura Marling’s recent musical matrimony.

Fans were flawed by the pair’s musical exploration into the absurdity of individualism and emptiness of contemporary life. LUMP as a project has been an opportunity for these two artists to develop their own previous observations about the obscurity of the modern world; to question the bizarre nature of our individualist society and to highlight how far many people go to escape feelings of meaninglessness and anonymity in our social media plagued culture, all to an incredibly well produced and slick soundtrack.

The sound created by Lindsay and Marling has been described as being ‘drone-folk’ – Mike Lindsay himself explained the self-titled record as being a ‘cyclical drone journey album’. Futuristic yet familiar, many moments on the record would not be out of place on a dystopian film score. Each of the songs on LUMP are recorded in the same key, creating flow and continuity between them. The album from start to finish should be regarded more as a piece of art than a contemporary folk album. Just six tracks long (seven including the finale ‘LUMP is a project’ where Marling reads the names of each musician involved), even the length of the album could be considered as a social critique. Our depleting attention spans can arguably no longer handle hour-long albums – perhaps instead it is better for musicians to create short, intense bursts of entertainment for us to swallow quickly and then move on. A sad thought, but one to ponder nonetheless.

Aethereal and aloof in LUMP, Marling is at her best. Utterly engrossed in her work, her passion is infectious. Her other-worldly stage presence had the audience hanging on her every move. Her vocal ability is astounding and her range seems to have only flourished as she herself has matured. Marling’s strong, almost masculine energy leaves the crowd dumbfounded by her talent rather than her indisputable beauty. In LUMP we are confronted by the fact that Laura Marling is the real deal; she’s a rock star of our generation and it is refreshing for the audience to see her experimenting with her own style, more rocky and rugged than we have seen her before.

Indeed through LUMP, we are also given the opportunity to learn more about Mike Lindsay of Tunng. While Laura wrote the words for the project, Mike came up with the sounds. His energy throughout Sunday night’s show was indisputable and his excitement at working with someone whom apparently he had long admired was quite evident. Tunng has a new album coming out at the end of the year, which sounds to have been somewhat inspired by the creation of LUMP.

Highlights of the show included Curse Of The Contemporary, which is perhaps the most easy on the ear track of the record, and Rolling Thunder, which is not. I would encourage listeners to enjoy the album as a whole, how the creators intended it to be heard, how they conducted it on stage.

Lindsay and Marling have insisted that LUMP is a creation that was born from their creative energies which they will now parent and steer in the right direction when necessary. The project is an exciting meeting of minds and has resulted in an interesting and refreshing sound. LUMP is doing some of the festival rounds this summer and I would recommend that you get on board from the start.

Jessica Newsome