There are a lot of things that are re-imagined, re-interpreted or at least referenced in art, literature and music. Some of it works (Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo & Juliet', Soft Cell's 'Tainted Love' or even Banksie's take on Vermeer's 'Girl With The Pearl Earring' for example) Musically, there are also those that borrow a hook, certain phrasing or just capture the atmospherics of the sound. Retro will always have it's place and ironically never go out of fashion. When it works, and when there is a refreshing take on a familiar theme, it can be a joyous thing.
For their 8th album, Lake, have chosen as their reference point, 70's Soft-Rock. The thought of this may make you wince slightly but there is no doubt the genre is experiencing something of a mini revival right now. There is certainly still a lot of love to be found for The Eagles, The Carpenters, Lionel Ritchie et al and Fleetwood Mac's huge appeal and pull seems never to wain.
At the core of Lake are husband and wife duo Ashley Eriksson and Elijah Moore. The marital pair not only combine song-writing duties but also provide some of the album's luscious harmonies. As you'd probably expect there are no jolts or bumps along the way. Through the course of the twelve tracks the ride is kept very smooth, tracking between a defined band width so as not to arrest or interrupt in anyway the continuous momentum.
What is considered by some radio gold remains a total anathema to many others. It's hard to imagine a less offensive genre but the easy listening chords and structures of this format can, and do, polarise opinion. No bite, no potency, no raw intensity or power equals bland, boring and unfathomable to a large demographic. With age generally grows tolerance though so as your youthful inner anger and pent up emotion generally dissipates so the need for more calm beds in. This is the middle ground that Lake inhabit. Uninterrupted plains of pleasant musical vistas played out with a mellow disposition.
Both Elijah, and particularly, Ashley have a very agreeable and harmonious voice. There is nothing jarring about the arrangements and the instrumentation more than compliments each song. There are however few highlights. That said, there are few lowlights either. The very nature of the 'noise' means that it all blends seamlessly into a fluid passage of songs. There are songs that occasionally poke their head above the parapet and make a more singular statement. 'Work With What You Got', and close out track 'Magazine', for example take a slightly breezier, 70's French chic route with strings and catchy revolving hooks (The late GeneviSve Castr'e on backing vocals is whom the album is dedicated to). 'Gone Against The Wind' does witness a guitar played with a certain attitude and there is a percussive flourish to 'Christian Comedians' but these are relatively slim pickings.
'Forever Or Never' isn't a bad record but neither is it particularly memorable. The vocals are pleasant and the music more than agreeable, it's just not enough to make it resonate or connect. It isn't really a new take on an old, over worked, genre. It's simply more of the same, not that refreshing, and without the extra quality that saw the rise of the Soft-Rock super groups in the first instance. (I've heard enough triangles for this month). 'Forever Or Never', certainly no 'Never For Ever'....a shame.
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