Loch Lomond – Little Me Will Start a Storm

January 01, 1970

(Tender Loving Empire)

 

www.tenderlovingempire.com

 

Lots of chamber pop bands talk the chamber talk without really walking
it, their strings mere accents glued onto pop ditties. But led by singer
Ritchie Young’s quirky visions, Loch Lomond’s ensemble employs a used-music store
worth of instruments to weave delicate tapestries that have more in common with
Sufjan Stevens’ vignettes or Lost In the Trees’ chamber-folk than Arcade Fire
bombast; if you’re expecting grand, sweeping statements and crescendos powerful
enough to explode your earbuds, you’ll not find them here.

 

Instead, on these nine tracks from the band’s fourth full-length, the
pastoral arrangements of strings, bass clarinet, vibes, singing saws, glock,
mandolin, etc., create textures so warm and engaging they envelop more than
accent; thinking about this music in a bar or club seems almost sacrilegious.
These are songs for sylvan settings, a feeling buttressed by the collective’s
use of intricate and gorgeous choir-like backing harmonies to contrast or abet
the strings (kudos to producer Tucker Martine for blending it all so warmly).
All these elements meld beautifully to provide “Earth Has Moved Again” with a
hymnal feel, and “Elephants & Little Girls” with a soft-focus, wistful
childhood nostalgia.

 

The band hasn’t eschewed pop entirely, just incorporated elements from
previous centuries into it. It’s easy to forget that not all classical chamber
was stiff and stuffy or deadly serious; plenty of it was based in popular folk
music of the time. Loch Lomond’s “Blood Bank,” with its 3/4 mallets-on-bassdrum
beat, shakers, mandolin and joyous harmonies sounds like something played to
celebrate a successful harvest, and “Egg Song” – featuring just Young, guitar
and angelic harmonies – could almost be a Renaissance madrigal.

 

Throughout, Young’s voice mutates from falsettos to Stephen
Merritt-like deadpan, typically suiting narratives that alternate between playful
and wistful as they describe loss, lust and yearning. The LP is bookended by
the album’s mood shifts, up-tempo and syncopated opener “Blue Lead Fences”
declaring “It feels good to be young,” while LP-closer “Alice Left with
Stockings and Earrings” drifts past like a sepia-tinged dream of by-gone times
– whether of your past or someone’s centuries ago is, in the presence of music
so timeless, utterly irrelevant. 

 

DOWNLOAD: “Water for Astoria,” “Blood Bank”
JOHN SCHACHT

 

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