by Richard Hart
I think a lot of people like to consider themselves to be an “early adopter”. That is to be ahead of the others, to know that something is good or, better still, cool before the crowd catch up and you start seeing it everywhere.
Witness the smugness of those who have read Game of Thrones talking down to those who are “only” watching the show, they are truly a self satisfied breed. (I should know, I started reading the books long ago).
With music fans, the joy comes when you are into an act before they have their breakout single. Smashing Pumpkins fans in the early 90’s in England were guilty of this and then equally of guilty of turning their back on the band when they had their brief peak of mainstream success.
With Gianna Factory, there is still room to be an early adopter. Their excellent début album “Save the Youth” was one of the best albums of 2012 but barely registered a tremble on the music world’s richter scale. The band have spent two years writing, recording and touring to present their “tricky sophomore” album “Lemon Moon”.
In case you missed “Save the Youth”, I’d suggest that you go and pick it up right away. The rich, sound of their debut album was a dark masterpiece. The Danish all girl three piece act return here having spent a lot of time in the studio, describing in a recent interview that they see themselves as a “sort of factory” hence the bands esoteric name.
There’s no getting away from the sober, dark sound of the album. Perhaps lacking some of the sinister undertones of the first album, Lemon Moon still has a sparse, vaguely haunted sound which is largely informed by the vocals of Loui Foo, her soft, tense vocals have a depth and a darkness to them which is reminiscent of Beth Gibbons but with a tendency to a deeper tone.
The band have always had a great degree of musical proficiency and that hasn’t been lost between albums. Lisbet Fritze (on guitar) and Sofie Johanne (bass and synth) are still great and the triumvarite are a slick outfit.
Their music is a well produced, synth heavy and has a dose of eighties pop influence in its beats. The tone is rarely all that fast but neither is slow. This album has a bit more bounce to it than the stately first album and in fact a couple of tracks are down-right poppy.
Right Or Wrong opens the album with the familiar vocals of the first album and the harmonies that characterise their music along with Kate Bush style synth work in the background. The pace picks up for the faster, nearly dance-like Walking Mirror. The tone is never truly fast but there is a definite increase in tempo.
Lemon Moon, the signature track of the album is built around icy synth work which is half eighties retro and half echoing effects laden work that wouldn’t be out of place as part of any modern gothic pop release. The vocals are typical edgy, growling tones and doom-laden lyrics.
The slow, menacing I Live At Night is built around a slow, rambling set of lyrics which conjur up a horror story in musical form. There’s something unsettling about the chaotic sound of the song from the random bursts of drum machine work or the random shards of lyrics that float through the song.
The sweet, doomed tones of Don’t Fall In Love is one of the albums stand-out tracks. A beautiful, floating tone is built around floating, crystalline synth work and smokey, wistful lyrics. Loui’s work here is at it’s best and this song is almost the anthills of the cynical, glowering tone of “Change of Heart” from the début album.
The characteristic sound of Head Up High is almost the band’s calling card, the familiar quick tone of synth in the background and cool lyrics delivered throughout. The tone is quick here and the production values are high in this rich song. The whole album has a vaguely aquatic sound, perhaps slightly reminiscent of William Orbit’s work in the late 90’s and early 00’s.
Its Your Life is similar as being a sort of “par” effort by the band. Slower than Head Up High it’s a decent effort but is more of a pause for breath. One of the poppiest songs on the album it doesnt quite feel out of place but lacks the tension and icy cool of the rest of the album.
The slow, dreamlike, nearly country song Downtown is a rich, haunting track which takes the pace of the album down to a slow shuffle. The lyrics are haunted, yearning and sad. The track is deeply, icily atmospheric.
The snarling, discordant My Power Obey is a Gothic, rising tempo song which returns the album to it’s dark heartlands. A sparse, echoing effort, it has a lot of effects work throughout.
The edgy Our Hearts are Pounding is quite poppy too, in a dark off centre way. It conjures up the work of early Beth Orton (during her William Orbit era) and whilst it still features the bands calling cards, its a solid enough pop effort.
In Between ends the album on a slower, darker tone. The echoing chorus and dark, luxurious harmonies build up a solid track to close the album out.
Lemon Moon is a strong follow up, perhaps not quite as strikingly brilliant as the début album, but it has the weight of expectation on it now. The album starts strongly and peaks in the centre before fading a bit before the end. The band remain complex, highly competent and distinctive and have tried to experiment a bit with pacing, with lyrical content and even with influences in this album.