Kent Lambert's delicate home recordings blossom into full-blown baroque pop in this lovely, thought-provoking second album.
Kent Lambert's first EP, the self-released Celebs, landed in my review pile six years ago, a delicate, somewhat ephemeral first effort embellished with the simplest keyboards and electronic sounds (I called it "sweet but whisper-thin"). His next, Songs the Animals Taught Us, was denser, more orchestrated and altogether more impressive. Still even that pales next to We Were Enchanted, in which Lambert emerges fully from the bedroom, with baroque, emotionally resonant arrangements incorporating everything from string quartet to banjo to bassoon to musical saw. Lambert is working a much larger canvas here than before, in both musical and lyrical terms, stretching out his compositions into lush, subtly textured mini-symphonies of pop abandon.
"Last Dreams of Summer" runs more than seven minutes, building from simple piano chords and voice into lavish post-modern string flourishes. And the title track, though constrained to a smaller palette of glitchy electronic sounds, is lyrically quite compelling. Its sweet-voiced evocations of disaster, "School buses exploding / Volcanos erupting from the tops of skyscrapers / Mustaches dripping with blood" are nothing if not unsettling, contrasting dreamily with pristine keyboard tones and scratchy, percolating percussion. There is one cover -- of Lambert's friend Rhombus' "Night" -- and it has an organic simplicity and directness that contrasts sharply with the rest of the disc. It's a ukulele-strumming campfire song, leading oddly into the new wave alienation of closer "Isn't Radio". There is a banjo tucked into this dark-toned, Cure-textured keyboard sound, but even the world's folksiest instrument sounds a bit unsettled. Still it's a lovely uneasiness, couched in synthesized blurts and harpsichord-ish keyboard solos, and resolved by sweeping melodies. Who said pop had to be simple?