Written by: PP on 24/01/2011 03:30:24

Here's an early contender for a top ten spot on my list of best albums this year in eleven moth's time: "Pebble", the sophomore album by Buffalo, New York-based Lemuria. They were signed to hardcore/punk label Bridge Nine late last year amidst confusion as to exactly why, given their loose if not non-existent connection to punk based on their debut album. A connection, that certainly hasn't been strengthened with "Pebble", a wonderfully experimentalist piece of indie rock that toys with concepts from pop, garage, and a number of other genres to prove its worth, including distant nuances of punk.

On first listen, "Pebble" will bring up memories of that socially awkward kid in high school who didn't really have any friends nor understood how to interact in everyday social situations. It all sounds so awkward and unnatural, a result of a curious vocal dynamic between the weak and delicate female vocals that sound less confident than when you asked that hot girl from your class on a date for the first time, and the warm, quiet male vocals used as a heavy contrasting device. These are often laid on top of each other much in the same way as Mixtapes do on their slower, quieter songs, and there's indeed a connection to be made between these two bands in many songs, for sure.

But yet the record has a hidden sense of intelligence, a sense of romanticism, a poetic, intellectual vibe lurking just underneath the surface. Once you are acquainted with the record, a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity starts arising from their intriguing vocal plays that toy with a number of music theory concepts that aren't directly obvious on first listen. For instance, the lyrics in one of the highlights on the album, "Pleaser", are extremely simple: "I am hinting hard, I am a hard hinter, I am a pleaser, and I am hinting hard" - but yet the vocal dynamic is nothing short of incredible. The female vocals go up and down in range demonstrating how it is possible to make such a simple vocal line sound so irresistibly catchy through applying different tone and pitch to different parts of it. The repetition of extremely simple lyricism is recurring theme throughout the record because it is so effective in helping fulfil some of the objectives Lemuria clearly have about "Pebbles" as a whole.

You see, Lemuria don't write songs, as such. They create atmospheres and moods. Often really quirky ones, too.

This approach to songwriting leads into songs that both sound and feel special, songs that in the future will remind you of exactly what you were doing when you first "got them". A great help comes of course from the instrumentation, which ranges from quirky and exploring to pop punk-ish and even punk rock in places. Bass guitar is prominently used to create thumping rhythms or just purely strange and odd-sounding passages. See "Durian" for the former, or "Yellowstone Lady" for the latter, which actually could be almost straight off a classic Pavement release. Elsewhere, a garage rock vibe pops up that distantly recalls The Thermals, though it's such a far-fetched vibe that it probably only occurs in the head of this writer. Let me know if you feel the same.

In the end, Lemuria have written one hell of a record with "Pebble". It's fast and straight-forward when it needs to be, but also curiously introspective and contemplative elsewhere, not to even mention the heavy amounts of quirk found throughout the record. This also makes it a very difficult album to get into, but on the other hand carries promise of longevity and countless repeat-listen opportunities when you finally understand what's really going on during the record. And that, my friends, is what great albums have all in common.


Download: Pleaser, Yellowstone Lady, Different Girls, Irregular, Durian
For the fans of: Pavement, Mixtapes, The Thermals, The Ergs!
Listen: Myspace

Release date 11.01.2011
Bridge Nine

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