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LUMP’s “Animal” is charmingly weird

This new experimental album is a diamond in the rough

Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of LUMP make a great team. 

In 2017 Marling, a two-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, released her album “Semper Femina,” where she explores themes of femininity and friendship. After the release of “Semper Femina,” Marling found herself stuck in a creative rut where she struggled to find inspiration for her music, saying that she “was in danger of being bored of [herself].” She then teamed up with Mike Lindsay, cofounder of the band Tuung, and founded LUMP in 2018 in order to regain inspiration with a new, experimental style of music.

“LUMP is the repository for so many things that I’ve had in my mind and just don’t fit anywhere in that way,” Marling said in an interview with Pitchfork. “They don’t have to totally make narrative sense, but weirdly they end up making narrative sense in some way.”

Featuring 10 electronic, psychedelic tracks, LUMP’s newest release, “Animal,” offers a glimpse into Marling and Lindsay’s creative and experimental songwriting, instrumentation and vocals.

The album opener, “Bloom at Night,” is a hypnotic listen. Featuring subtle electronica with influences of folk music, “Bloom at Night” is clearly very experimental, but it works. The song also features the interplay between Marling and Lindsay, as both of their unique styles come together to create a mesmerizing harmony. This track shows LUMP trying something new and exploring just how creative they can be with their music. 

“Gamma Ray” showcases Lindsay’s own creative instrumentation. The track has a funky and groovy feeling with a vintage influence, making it a great track to vibe to and just enjoy. The sounds of chimes and monotone chanting add a playful element to the track that is strange yet intriguing at the same time. “Gamma Ray” demonstrates that “Animal” is not just a vocal-focused album, but one that has equally captivating instrumentation underneath the lyrics. 

The title track, “Animal,” is another unexpected yet entrancing song. The song features dark, imaginative lyrics as Marling sings, “Hair on the pillow / Blood on the shirt / Pieces of love / Traces of dirt.” At the beginning of the song Marling’s vocals sound subdued, but as the song progresses — like an animal — they slowly gain life and become powerful.

The most gripping song on the album, however, is “Red Snakes.” Here, Marling’s thoughtful lyrics and evocative imagery take center stage. She reflects on her regrets for things that no longer are in her life, singing, “At the mount of ancient song / Where you grieve for what is gone / A thousand hands, countless plans / And youth.” 

“Red Snakes” is also a prime example of how perfectly Lindsay and Marling complement each other throughout the album. Marling’s lyrics burst with emotion on this almost-ballad, while Lindsay’s instrumentation remains subtle, allowing Marling’s passionate lyrics to shine through.

Another standout track, “We Cannot Resist,” is easily the catchiest track on “Animal.” Here, Marling describes a dangerous desire, singing, “Kids on the run / Falling for each other / Down to have fun / And out to burn rubber.” Marling’s vocals are an integral part of this song, specifically towards the end of the song as she repeats the phrase “we cannot resist” until her voice is barely a whisper.

On the first listen, “Animal” may sound too eccentric for many, as it strays far away from the familiarity of today’s popular music. However, this album is a diamond in the rough and one whose exploratory vocals, instrumentation and lyrics offer a liberating escape from the mainstream. “Animal” is a must-listen for anybody looking to broaden their taste and discover something new.