November 02, 2005

Lambchop & Hands Off Cuba "CoLAB"

If one had to describe the band Lambchop in one word, that word would be varied. Throughout their career, the band has never tarried too long with one sound. At times that’s a major frustration (especially after Nixon when they abandoned their newfound soul roots for the minimalist Is A Woman), but longtime fans have learned to accept the band’s experimental side. Thus, their new EP CoLAB, isn’t that much of a surprise. The first new material since last year’s excellent Aw, C’mon and No, You C’mon, this four-song EP is, as usual, a different approach from the records that preceded it.

Over the past few years, head ‘chop Kurt Wagner has hinted at an interest in electronica, and with CoLAB, a collaboration with electronica duo Hands off Cuba, he finally indulges in this interest. In the hands of his collaborators, Wagner’s balladry takes on a new dimension and a new depth not previously explored. Tempering his gorgeous piano arrangements with beats and loop splices might sound like a horrible idea, but surprisingly it works quite well. “Prepared” is a pretty song that’s as gorgeous as anything on Nixon or Is a Woman, with Hands Off Cuba’s glitchy handiwork fitting subtly under Wagner’s melancholy songwriting, and “Woman” is a simple, subtle instrumental, with an utterly gorgeous piano melody line. The other two songs, “Blur” and “Gus,” are a bit more ragged, and are more Hands off Cuba than they are Lambchop. But as they contain traces of Wagner’s handiwork, both songs are still quite lovely.

CoLAB is a nice diversion for Wagner and company, and it’s a pleasant little record. After years of temptation, it’s nice that Wagner finally indulged himself, for the results are unsurprisingly excellent. Of course, don’t get too comfortable with the notion that this is a new direction for Wagner’s army, because, if history is any indication, it’s not…

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:
Label Website:

No comments: