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The Lost Patrol: Songs About Running Away

Jason MacNeil

The Lost Patrol

Songs About Running Away

Label: Burning Heart
US Release Date: 2004-01-20
UK Release Date: 2003-06-09

The Lost Patrol seems to be eons away from the International Noise Conspiracy's brand of revved up punk-soul. But the group is led by the same person, namely lead singer and songwriter Dennis Lyxzen. "I wanted to do a singer-songwriter record that was more Black Flag than Simon & Garfunkel," Lyxzen says in the advance press for the record. So I guess the main question is whether the INC's singer can pull it off without hitches? Well, in a way yes, and in a way no.

The Lost Patrol opens with an alt-country, roots-driven, Americana flavor for "No New Manifesto". The track contains just a slight hint of jazz within it, thanks to Jonas Kullhammar's clarinet playing. "No one can hear what I hear, everybody understands", Lyxzen sings in the mid-tempo reflective piece. It's definitely a turn of sound from his other group, but the follow-up to Lost Patrol's Songs in the Key of Resistance gets off to a good start. The jazz overtones bring to mind British bands such as the Beautiful South -- pop-oriented but with adult contemporary oeuvres. "Out of Date" continues this theme and is far more subdued, with more clarinet and piano solos encompassing the bridge. The singer's voice doesn't seem suited to the song, however, which is a bit puzzling.

A lot of the album lacks intensity and resembles a series of homemade demos more than anything else. The softer, singer-songwriter format is splendid on the sparse voice and acoustic guitar tune "The Way Things Are". Take away the jazz element and the songs are far more profound and deep. Lyxzen could throw an occasional curve by screaming some lyrics, but he never does. The song is an early high moment. Thankfully this continues with a poppy, bouncy Brit-pop party tune in "Alright". Featuring Lisa Miskovsky on accompanying and quasi-lead vocal, the song comes to life early and often. However, things are taken down with the mediocre "Left and Leaving Blues", with Lyxzen trying to reincarnate Gram Parsons.

When the Lost Patrol go for broke, often times they are greatly rewarded. This is true of the '70s romantic folk-pop style of "Restating the Obvious". Soft and at times very inviting, the band hits its stride on this song. "I just want you to call, knock on my door", Lyxzen sings behind a paper-thin piano solo. The duet between Miskovsky and Lyxzen is quite special, each complementing the other perfectly. But for every great nugget there are some tedious moments, particularly with the pale "Going Going Gone", a schmaltzy track that might be better with a harder, guitar rock arrangement. It's generally Belle and Sebastian minus the hooks. Fortunately, they get back to goodness with the softer, simpler "The Last Goodbye", a late-Beatles-like ballad circa "Norweigan Wood" that oozes quality from top to bottom.

The last half of side two is a so-so mix of filler and flash. "Something Missing" is basically Lyxzen trying to pour his heart out, but it resembles a campfire song more than anything else. This is also true later on during the acoustic ballad "Same Heart That Will Tear Me Apart", a somber song that possibly Coldplay or Ron Sexsmith could pull off to far greater effect. The closest the Lost Patrol come to sounding like International Noise Conspiracy is the gyrating-inducing "200 Reasons Why", a guitar-light but rhythm-driven pop song. The sing-a-long quality is toned down, but it should really kick ass in a live setting. Wrapping up the dozen is "Desperate Attempts", which seems a fitting title. The Lost Patrol succeed in such attempts, but it isn't quite as consistent as one might hope for. A unique and interesting departure from Lyxzen's day job.

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