LAPLAND – Lapland

Album: Lapland

Artist: Lapland

Label: Hundred Pockets

Release Date: March 26, 2013



 Is there a hip equivalent to doing “The Wave” during a slice of particularly affecting balladry  on American Idol or The Voice? I don’t think so. But some of Lapland’s sounds could launch such a trend.

 Lapland is the product of New York-based composer, singer, and guitarist Josh Mease. As with the solitary musings of audio savants such as Nick Drake, Brian Wilson, and Van Dyke Parks, Mease opens a window to his take on the universe with this debut, which he composed–and did much of the recording for–in a “tiny half-bedroom in Brooklyn.”

 Lapland’s opener and closer (“Unwise,” “LaLaLa”)  are sleepy pastel washes that could lull one into thinking the album’s great for relaxing – but otherwise interchangeable with piles of other recordings serving a similar function. When “Unwise” is followed by a ravishing track, “Overboard,” that relaxed atmosphere is enriched by evocative vistas, with Mease’s warmly immediate vocals providing a steady magnet. 

 Mease has a gift for subtly reworking age-wrinkled chords and song structures into new sound sculptures. The album consistently reveals shifting panoramas as hypnotic — and occasionally breathtaking — as a sunset mountain ascent might be to a naturalist. When “Aeroplane” rises from the mix; it’s all the more striking for the lack of fanfare, in this generally lovely setting – an effect that’s rather new to me – usually, the whole loveliness thing tends to reduce such beauty to an excess of treacle. Something in Mease’s feckless meshing of melodic doo wop with digital possibilities elevates it from similarly enticing tracks by, say, the Morning Benders, or Dirty Beaches, into something eternal – the difference seems to be about naked sincerity.

 DOWNLOAD: “Overboard,” “Aeroplane” MARY LEARY

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