The Upshot: Blessed with a natural, easygoing charisma, the British group is remarkably stylistically diverse while maintaining a tight focus on tunefulness.
BY FRED MILLS
Upon debuting with the four-song Curse of Lono EP last fall, this London band instantly attained “hotly anticipated” status, full-length-wise. Reviewers across the globe were deeply smitten, including yours truly, who enthused in a review, “While London’s Curse of Lono comes across like a group of veterans who’ve been recording and performing for years, they’ve actually only been together since 2015… [It is] a bold new incarnation for Hey Negrita’s Felix Bechtolsheimer, featuring everything from Krautrock to folk to jazzy gothic noir, and it’s going to be fascinating to watch the band grow and evolve.”
The full-length is finally here, and it fully matches the anticipation, a diverse yet focused buffet of artful rock awash in memorable melodies and intriguing textural shifts. (Three of the EP’s tracks appear on this as well.) For starters, Bechtolsheimer and crew put a lot of focus on the vocals, serving up gospel-like harmonies brimming with warmth and a folk band’s purposeful positioning. Too, whether serving up a toe tapper of a singalong (the strummy “Just My Head”), a jazzy slice of pop noir (the Doors-like “London Rain,” a highlight of the aforementioned EP), or an uplifting rock anthem (“Send For the Whiskey,” boasting a handclap-friendly beat and some deliciously sinewy lead guitar), or a shanty-like, blues (“Welcome Home,” which, with its boozy chorus of “oh babe, don’t you cry/ love in your cup /don’t mean shit when you die,” is destined to be a last-call staple at pubs across the globe), Curse of Lono maintains an ambiance of intimacy, drawing the listener in as if part of an extended peer group.
Indeed, one key to the band’s appeal lies in its perceived approachability. There’s an everyman quality to the group, a kind of this-band-could-be-your-life vibe that longtime fans of the Mekons will recognize and identify with. Curse of Lono is a little bit pop, a little bit rock, a little bit punk, a little bit folk/alt-country—and it has a heart full of soul, to boot. My hunch is that anyone who gets to hear Severed, or catches the band live, will be an easy, potentially immediate convert to the cause. Tuneful as hell, Curse of Lono has a natural, easygoing charisma destined to carry it far.
Consumer note: Seek out the vinyl version. It’s pressed on sturdy 180gm vinyl that comes housed in a super-thick plastic inner sleeve, and also comes with a download card.
DOWNLOAD: “Send For the Whiskey,” “London Rain,” “Welcome Home”