Lambchop’s new album, FLOTUS, is currently streaming on NPR’s website in advance of its official release date, and it’s a truly fascinating record.
FLOTUS blends cold, synthetic rhythms with delicate piano parts, soft guitars, and pitch-shifted vocals that sound like they’ve gone through three or four different processors. Even if you’ve never been a huge fan of the band previously, I still recommend you seek this one out. Personally, it’s speaking to me more than anything else they’ve released in the past.
Album opener “In Care Of 8675309” is nearly 12 minutes long, though it seems to drift by by in an instant. You can’t make out a single line frontman Kurt Wagner sings, but it hardly matters; he could be reading old Donald Trump speeches and the song would still be absolutely captivating. In a way, it reminds me of Wilco’s “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend),” another 12-minute epic. It’s long, sure, but it’s so beautiful that you never even think of the time; you just sit back and enjoy it.
The other big highlight is the final song, “The Hustle,” which comes in at over 18 minutes and manages to sound like both a weird dance song from the future and an outtake from one of Eno’s early ambient records. “The Hustle” is a journey, like the sort of music krautrock bands were putting out in the mid-to-late 70s. You think it’s ending, but then it fades back to life. You think it’s going to zig, and then it zags. The song’s introduction builds and builds for more than five minutes before Wagner appears and delivers the song’s poetic lyrics, and it’s a great moment when he does finally show up and sing.
It’s tempting to compare FLOTUS to Bon Iver’s recent 22, A Million, but that would do both albums an unfair disservice; while Bon Iver plays with the synthesizers and saxophones of 80s soft rock radio ballads, Lambchop’s music remains rooted in straightforward country and rock and roll. In other words, if the experimentation and weirdness of 22, A Million makes you roll your eyes, you might still connect to what Wagner and company are doing on FLOTUS.
NPR is streaming the full album here for now, though the link likely won’t work after Friday, when FLOTUS is available for purchase.
The video below should always work, though … c’mon, friends, click “play” and check out the best song on the album …