Up in the north of England, Newcastle is known for being cold but not caring about it – I refer you to its football fans, who have a penchant for going bare-chested in deepest December. Cinematic indie band Lanterns on the Lake take the chill in their native air and distil it down to a crystalline purity which cuts through the warmth and melancholy of latest album Beings for a magnetic record conducted by Hazel Wilde’s remarkable vocals.
The album fades in with ‘Of Dust and Matter’, and it’s a brave move, because it’s probably the least accessible track on the record, and to be honest not its best. But it certainly sets the mood, in the same way that seeing a face in a hockey mask at your bedroom window sets the mood for a night of horror movies – more real than you’re going to get later, and more real than you really need. Echoes of this ponderousness move through the electronica of ‘Stepping Down’, which spends just too much time looking inwards to grab you. But maybe it’s deliberate, with Wilde singing “I swam into this vacuum just to find some colour”. Judging by the rest of the record, she finds it.
The truly memorable thing about Beings is the sucker punch of emotion which wells up in your gut when the band hit their stride, whether whispering or at full throttle. There’s safety writ large on the painstaking instrumentation of ‘The Crawl’, one of the most gently affecting tracks on the record, and the recipe for warmth with a swooping dreaminess is just as vital on ‘I’ll Stall Them’.
The wounds open further on ‘Send Me Home’ but its on ‘Faultlines’ where things are masterfully pushed all the way into the red. As essential as heartbeats and as immediate as a charging bull, the song sweeps you along into the eye of the sublime with one hand using your soul like a gearstick. It’s spine-chillingly good stuff, tapping into an anthemic strain of the band’s sound which is all the better for being sparingly used. ‘Through the Cellar Door’ recaptures some of that heart-rending rush, balancing it beautifully with the tenderness which characterises the rest of the record. Taken as a whole, Beings makes a cat’s cradle out your heartstrings and proves that ‘visceral’ doesn’t have to mean a punch in the face.
Words - Joe Ponting
'Beings' is out now on Bella Union
Lanterns On The Lake official