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By Bethany Edwards on 10.11.2023

Lanterns On The Lake Release ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’

Bella Union’s latest signing, Newcastle-based band Lanterns on the Lake, seem to be regarded by many of the big name music publications as simply another addition to the current shoegaze/dream pop revival scene. Inspired by Bella Union, boss Simon Raymonde’s pioneering dream pop outfit the Cocteau Twins.

However, upon stepping inside the increasingly influential internet blogosphere, it becomes clear that this six-piece have in fact been gaining a steady following for years prior to their signing, all the while honing their rich, spectral sound in preparation for one of the most glorious and, indeed, gracious debut albums released so far this year.

Gracious Tide, Take Me Home doesn’t just stick to typical dream pop conventions, either. Many of the base instruments present are in fact organic – the piano, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel and various string instruments filling up most of the musical space, whilst also giving the album the majority of its emotional weight. Herein lies one of the band’s greatest strengths – namely, their outstanding attention to musical detail.

With a lot of records, this feature alone might be worthy of merit, but here it serves an even greater purpose, and to even greater effect – for what is also provided by these arrangements is a backdrop for the album’s theme: a sense of belonging in relation to the sea.

Musically, the album achieves this feat in a number of different ways. Texture-wise, the tracks tend to build from a minimalistic arrangement to one that is somehow both dense and spacious, with sparse musical intricacies scattered throughout. The blips and crackling of a lo-fi drum machine open the record via track ‘Lungs Quicken’, creating a modest and intimate feel that persists throughout the rest of the record.

Henceforth, the strings continuously rise and fall like the ebb and flow of slow wave-motions, while mournful, lilting vocals, sometimes barely above a whisper, sing out to those lost at sea. The latter feature is particularly affecting in the tender ‘If I’ve Been Unkind’, where the vocals are shared between lead singer Hazel Wilde and guitarist Adam Sykes.

Both voices have a special warmth and delicacy about them, here sounding wearied and faltering as they confess: ‘When you went missing, I looked almost everywhere/I sailed the seas, but you were never even there’. As the strings rise up then promptly collapse inwards, a sense of loss, as well as the grief that follows, is deeply felt. It could be the most moving moment on the record.

However, whilst there are plenty of other moments like this on Gracious Tide – each a perfect combination of stirring arrangements, wistful vocals and gently evocative imagery – at times the effect does not sustain itself, and the songs consequently drift. The overall pace of the record rarely changes, and when variation is attempted it is not wholly successful.

For example, the reworked version of ‘A Kingdom’ (placed unsubtly in the middle of the record) is the only song on the album with a driving beat, yet this attempt at creating some sort of euphoric rush falls flat, the final product brittle and pale – especially in comparison to earlier versions.

This is not to say that the album’s faults outweigh its merits. When they’re at their best, Lanterns on the Lake are a mesmerising band, however, they need to be careful not to settle with just their existing strengths. By exploring murkier and more obtuse depths, they could end up producing material even surpassing that of their influences, but if they don’t they run the risk of being simply cast adrift, and perpetually lost at sea.


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