Lenola began as one of the numerous American copycats of
My Bloody Valentine.
Based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, although technically in New Jersey,
the band debuted with the singles
Colonial 509 (Tappersize, 1994), that contains
Discount Oatmeal and Greedo, and
Oh Yes Jeep Is Good (Tappersize, 1995), that contains
Tarred Dog Saved and Frisbee Weekend.
The tremolo-heavy songs showed a promising style,
derivative but also powerfully emotional.
The Last Ten Feet Of The Suicide Mile (Tappersize, 1996)
in the pure shoegazing tradition.
Dueling guitarists Dave Grubb and Jay Laughlin sustain dreamy chords and
whisper dreamy lyrics. All songs repeat the same pattern.
A warped psychedelia, that quotes
Flaming Lips and
Mercury Rev via Can and early Pink Floyd,
shapes Rat Circle, Z-Frame, Pipebomb and the
lengthy Gorilla Arm, while occasional bursts of dissonance bury
sonic stains like Twice Twice.
Test Disaster and Plates Must Spin are the melodic highlights of
The Swerving Corpse (Tappersize, 1998), a collection that began to
emphasize the pop element of their sound.
Leftover tracks appeared on the
EPs The Day The Laughter Smelled (Blackbean, 1998) and
Resurection of the Close-Up on the Magic Spot (Fuzzy Box, 1998).
The experimental current runs stronger and deeper on
My Invisible Name (Tappersize, 1999), although the band maintains
a high degree of catchiness.
Unsettling Down is almost languid Brit-pop of the
Suede-ian kind, but
this is only the icing. The cake has more flavors.
The quasi-instrumental Jet Row is a surreal nonsense that mixes
the pastoral psychedelia of early Pink Floyd
and the zany folk-rock of the Holy Modal Rounders.
Shoegazers must be proud of
the wildly distorted merry-go-round of Who Made Me Bleed Like This.
However, too many ideas are not fully developed: the maelstrom of Dust From Your Skin becomes more and more
derivative, and the frantic rock and roll of Frukus (possibly the
album's best intuition) is way too short.
More tracks surfaced on the EP The Electric Tickle (Tappersize, 2000).
Lazy Eye and Medicine Glow, the standout tracks of
Treat Me To Some Life (Tappersize, 2001), further expanded the band's
palette. The single Keep Coming Back (Second Story, 2002) was a valuable
addition to this melodic canon.
Sharks & Flames (Homesleep, 2002), a double CD, completed the band's
conversion to a simple, streamlined, melodic, concise sound. The focus has
definitely shifted towards the "Apples In Stereo meets
Flaming Lips" axis of psychedelic pop.
The production is smooth and crystal-clear.
The instruments are caressed rather than mangled.
The mood is rural rathern than urban, bucolic rather than neurotic.
The trio of Dave Grubb, sean Byrne and Jay Laughlin (who wrote most of the
songs) deliver light pop (Standing Still,
occasionally derivative of Yes' smooth vocal harmonies (Eternal,
All You Hide, Sudden Stop),
languid psychedelia (Never Ends),
folkish, acoustic lullabies (Fake Vegetables),
as well as exuberant, jangling folk-rock (Gentlemen Overboard),
sprightly country-rock (Shallow & Often),
and vaudeville blues (Water on the Floor).
Often, the song's naive construct is balanced by an electronic and rhythmic
undercurrent that is all but linear. This kind of "smooth dischord" is best
exemplified by Sleeping Dogs.
This is a band specialized in the classic song format,
but capable as well of the calm seven-minute meditation Impossible, that
slowly mutates from an ecstatic
David Crosby-ian ballad to a mournful
The scope of this collection is impressive, although a few songs could have
been left out (especially on the second disc). It redefines Lenola as a
protagonists of the neo-pop movement of the 2000s.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giulio Bassanello) |