Mancunian artist LoneLady’s ‘Former Things’ opens with the reverberating bass of ‘The Catcher,’ melting into a distinctly 80s-inspired synth that characterises the record. The casting away of post-punk guitar for synthesisers is intentional but keeping a little more guitar in would have helped this record avoiding the shallower sounds it sometimes falls into.
Born from a Somerset House Studios residency, the album was written between 2016 and 2018, going back into production across 2019 and 2020. Had the record been released earlier it might have had a stronger impact, as its lengthy gestation perhaps robs it of a little energy.
Although the record has a shaky start, there are moments of real clarity around its middle. Titular single ‘Former Things’ is by far the strongest on the album, and achieves a real balance between guitar, synth, and vocals, particularly when contrasted with the heavily synthesised ‘(There is) No Logic’ that precedes it. While ‘(There is) No Logic’ and ‘Fear Colours’ were released as teaser singles earlier this year, holding ‘Former Things’ off until the album release might have been a strategic mistake. Another standout single is ‘Treasure,’ which shows off LoneLady’s full vocal capabilities and range.
The record is made up of lengthy songs, bucking the trend in shorter singles that has emerged recently. All of the tracks on the record are over four minutes long, with some surpassing five minutes, a theme that LoneLady has carried over from her critically acclaimed ‘Hinterland’, released in 2015. It’s unclear whether these longer tracks work in her favour: at times, it can feel like they are dragging on, especially given the repeating lyrics and synth beats that characterise this album’s sound.
The finishing single ‘Terminal Ground’ is an odd place for the record to end. It seems like the album has become so wrapped up in itself that it’s hard to tell what it’s saying, and finishing this way is a fizzle rather than a bang. On the making of the album, LoneLady said “I wanted to create hard-hitting synth patterns and a punchy electro crunch.” While the synth and electro are certainly there, it lacks a little punch.
Words: Sasha Mills
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