For an alt-country band that’s moved through a wide range of influences over the last two decades, there’s something one dimensional about Lambchop’s set tonight.
Having previously experimented with lounge music and vintage soul, the Nashville trio are currently promoting their new R&B influenced album FLOTUS (For Love Often Turns Us Still). Set against a backdrop of burbling electronica, drones and textured beats that are triggered by a laptop, Kurt Wagner’s lyrics about enduring love and colliding raindrops are delivered through heavy vocal processing.
It’s a sound that Bon Iver played with on third album 22, A Million but the result here is much more subtle. So subtle that the contemporary hip-hop artists that Wagner has cited wouldn’t even recognise their influence on a track such as ‘In Care Of 8675309’, which is the most traditional offering tonight as beats play over Tony Crow’s cocktail piano.
More typical of their new direction, where looped rhythms are integrated with Wagner’s countrified guitar strums, are the elegiac ‘The Hustle’ and ‘Gone Tomorrow’. Affecting when heard in isolation, when repeated over the course of ninety-minutes their use of auto-tune becomes a distraction and the pace shows minimal variety.
The band have nonetheless created such as distinctive sound that their cover of Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine’ – which closes the set – is virtually unrecognisable. Replacing the new wave funk of the original with a gentle croon, they make the tale about a love triangle sound strangely appropriate for what Crow jokes is ‘date night for a lot of people…’