by Ben Adsett
Sometimes there are wonderful albums that we completely forget about, until one day you remember and fall in love with it all over again. This week Ben Adsett rediscovered former Test Icicle and current Blood Orange/song writing champ, Dev Hynes first solo LP, Falling off the Lavender Bridge
This is an album which has absolutely everything that Test Icicles didn’t. It’s full of subtlety, calm, real invitation, and intimate feelings.
The album opens with the slide guitar subtlety of ‘Number One’ which is essentially an intro that flows effortlessly into the vocal and string introduction to ‘Galaxy of the Lost’. The cleansing slide guitar gently leads into some beautiful harmonies and string arrangements. ‘Galaxy of the Lost’ causes the hairs on the back of my neck to stand tall as the guitar takes over, and the tear ducts start to work at the very moment the vocals start – within a minute this album is infectious in its beauty.
The beautiful beginning is essential for this tale of lost love, backed with distorted vocals, haunting piano and the most delicate strings and calming guitar hooks. Falling off… sucks you right into the song writing almost instantly. These complex layers build and intertwine to create so much complexity that there are forever new intricacies to discover.
Lyrically this is a release that shouldn’t feel as soothing as it does; there are few light moments and even when wry jokes are included there is intense self-depreciation. These sad, honest moments typify the release; you’ll make emotional connections and, within a couple of songs, you’ll find yourself really routing for him. The interludes which often provide light relief add a whole new level of sadness with short emotive tales. These are built upon with the male/female vocal pattern which, at times, take the lyrical content from tragic to tear jerking.
Then, as the clarinet creeps into ‘All to Shit’ and accompanies some incredibly self-depreciating lyrics, this LP starts breaking hearts. In just over 1 minute there is a complete shift and there is a moment of reflection. Then comes the most beautiful of epics, the nine minute, fifty six second ‘Midnight Surprise’. Strings, pianos and a guitar solo that sounds like dial up internet create the perfect back drop for a tale of anxiety, lost love and, in the final notes, pure romance. It is in these tiny moments of positivity that this release goes from a beautifully sad to wonderfully clever.
As the release hits its second act the strings and wood wind become more prominent and create a oxymoronic balance that shouldn’t work as effortlessly as it does; full of sounds usually associated with weddings are accompanied by stories of emotional turmoil. ‘Devil Tricks for a Bitch’ not only delivers a linguistic masterclass where colloquialism is mixed with an incredibly high brow prose, but also has the kind of string section you could walk down an aisle to, while the lyrics could make the coldest of hearts heavy.
The ending of this release is an absolute heart breaker, too. Angular guitars and piano combine to create an almost chirpy back drop for dual vocals which are absolutely packed with emotive cracks. This creates an absolutely incredible contrast complete with catchy hooks.
Falling off the Lavender Bridge is an album that will stick in your head in more ways than one. Not only will you be humming certain songs to yourself for weeks after listening to it, you’ll also spend a lot of time reflecting on the sadness hidden amongst those infectious hooks.
And like me, all you’ll want to do is make Lightspeed a cup of tea and tell him everything will be okay.