Commuter Town, the debut album from lefthand, was released towards the end of last year and it’s brilliant.
Songs that drift away and come back, enigmatic lyrics, scratching feedback and patched together tape recordings play throughout the album.
There are seven songs, running a little over 30 minutes, with space afforded in the music and intriguing sounds and phrases to ensure you’re in for a well-made piece of work.
The album opens with a sparse sounding piano, and vocals like someone’s found an old box of memories to pore over.
A lot of the lyrics on Commuter Town are more or less confessional, but there’s nothing predictable or vapid.
The songs don’t show off candid turmoil or impose epiphanies, but give insights and images that invite the listener to join the dots while remaining quite beautifully sincere.
‘Turin’ is a lovely, creaking opener, backed by a haunting piano, meandering lyrics and an alluring melody.
‘Dead Policy’ has one of the sweetest drum entrances I’ve heard; not the sort of effected drums at the very beginning, which come back in now and again, I mean the clear, acoustic drums that come in with a cymbal trill to join the riff so sweetly around the 45 second mark, right after the “I guess that I’m right” line; the song just kicks off from that point.
The tone of the lyrics, and the song generally, seems conflicted between sarcasm and a strange kind of acceptance; there’s so much assurance and so much doubt at the same time and the last minute or so is a looping and hypnotic soundscape that lulls you into the next.
‘Broken Column’ is an aptly titled and beguiling couple of minutes of feedback, offset by a sort of jaunty background riff that plays until it breaks off toward the end; the song goes to a curious place in between other songs and fits well.
The title track stretches out with some really gorgeous guitar, and contains all the most distinctive features of the album; it’s somehow complex, but free and easy, composed but uncomfortable.
Occasional recordings of busy conversation crop up here and there, with incidental breaks in the music and loops that create a pleasant, inviting atmosphere.
With lyrics like: “the more you round on yourself the more you mean it” and “pedestrian drugs were bought, I thought so I could feel it / and now I know they’re really all I had”, the topic might sound quite bleak, but the music never lets you fall into despair.
In the end it seems to pull you back with a friendly smile to a world of simple pleasures; it leaves on a high after a fairly introspective and absorbing journey.
‘Thirst To Acquire New Skills’ is another song I listen to and wonder why there’s not been more made of this album yet.
I really like the stop/start vocals at the beginning, it sort of coincides with the lyrical content in that the lyrics relate a certain hesitation, with faltering plans in which “you can brew yourself pretty deep”.
In ‘Sugar Push’ a slow paced and delirious riff starts in after almost a minute of static and draws you into some sprawling melodies and subtle drumming, which continue for the most part of the song.
Melodic loops, with pedal clicks and clacks included, then drift away at the end, building a relaxing sound to bring you gently to the last song.
The last song is possibly my favourite of the album, although I don’t completely trust my own opinion about that, ‘Single Shooter Theory’ was the one that stood out the most the first time I listened through the album.
There are some great phrases (“we never knew you sold friendship”) and the combination of dreamy guitar lines and obscure, but relatable, lyrics goes together well; it’s an impressive ending, and leaves you hanging.
Words: Jason Riddell