The Mancunian duo (Rhodes and talented producer Andy Barlow) subvert expectations by pairing brooding lyrics with drum & bass breakbeats and by combining happy, hopeful verse with dark trip-hop. These songs are not the silly drug paeans of the Sneaker Pimps, nor are they the too-slight warbles of Everything But the Girl; rather, they are torch songs that exude heat and sex, dark aural landscapes that set spines to shivering. A standout track, "Till the Clouds Clear," opens with whimsically, almost dopily, plucked strings, but the folksy instrumentation serves as a backdrop for this: "The devil's got your tongue/...It's gonna burn, it's gonna burn/You're gonna take the whole world with you when you go."
Each Lamb album -- from the self-titled debut that made acid-house innovator A Guy Called Gerald come knocking, to the critically lauded Fear of Fours, to 2001's What Sound (with Me'Shell NdegéOcello on bass), to this, the newest release -- plays like a journey from despair to revelation. So forgive Rhodes and Barlow this one lie. They have seen darkness before, it's true -- but light, too. Even with lyrics as simple as those on the jungle-electronica romp "Sun" ("You are the sun/It's where you're from/And where I'm going to") comes the profound sense of an emergence from the dark, an offer of redemption -- at least for now.
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