Lapland - Lapland Album Review
Lapland is the new moniker of Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Josh Mease, who previously released music under his own name, namely 2009's 'Wilderness' album. According to Lapland's website, Mease chose to adopt this moniker for his new music because he felt that the songs on this album connected with the worldly landscapes in a photobook he'd seen called 'Lappland Wanderland'. This is easy to see as 'Lapland' has plenty of songs filled with beauty, just like wonderful sights of nature.
'Unwise' is a strong album opener with bubbling electronic beeps that are playful and uplifting. Some gentle rhythmic guitar accompanies it turning it into a truly beautiful song and Mease's dreamy shoegaze vocals are fitting to the instrumentation. Next is 'Overboard', which is less electronic and has more of a serious folk vibe. In contrast to the previous song it shows Lapland has two different sides; maybe even more alter-egos. We have to listen on to find out, and when the third song 'Aeroplane' follows, it does appear that Mease is a man of many different sounds. This song brings the album into a 60s soul vibe, with light keys and backing vocals gently repeating the sound 'ooo ooo'. 'Drink Me Dry' continues in the 60s groove, reminiscent of acts such as The Beach Boys and Buddy Holly. 'Memory' is more psychedelic, but the slow swaying into an abyss kind of psychedelic, not the bright and uplifting psychedelic. Once again, the wide range of sounds and emotions on display here is really impressive. On many of the songs, the electronics take a back seat, as opposed to being at the forefront like they were on 'Unwise', but they resurface again on 'Where Did It Go?' which boosts the song's dreaminess.
This is a very good album, but it's not perfect. There are just a few weak tracks to be heard. 'Fountains' is an instrumental which serves well as an album interlude but is quite poor as a standalone song that just lazily moves notes back and forth. Same with 'LaLaLa'. Again it seems like greatness is trying to be achieved here through minimal instrumentation, but failing with 'la la la' just being sang over and over again on top of lifeless guitar strumming. You feel like it's a wasted song that could be improved by simply having some actual lyrics in it.
Overall this is a great album. Lapland wears his 60s pop and psychedelic influences on his sleeve but in no way does the album sound like a throwback. This is thanks to the subtle use of electronics that occasionally stand out prominently, namely on 'Unwise' and 'Where Did It Go?'. There are just a few songs, though, that could've had more effort put into them, and which hold the album back from being consistently amazing.
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