LP

Forever for Now

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If Forever for Now, the first album by modern singer/songwriter LP, sounds a bit too assured for a debut, there's a reason for that: like many overnight sensations, LP has paid her share of dues. Some of those dues came in quite prominent places, particularly Rihanna's 2011 single "Cheers (Drink to That)," which LP co-wrote, but she had been writing and recording independently for nearly a decade prior, a long history that can be felt in the craft of Forever for Now but never once heard among its 12 songs. Far from sounding like the fussy work of a professional songwriter, there's a sharp, stylish gleam to the very sound of Forever for Now, a combination of LP's savvy pop sensibility and the cool commercial instincts of Rob Cavallo, a producer best known for his work with Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and My Chemical Romance. Cavallo is a good fit for LP, for he accentuates and accessorizes the contours of her songs without diluting the eccentricities. He gives her plenty of space to roam, allowing her to soar as high as a skyscraper on "Tokyo Sunrise" and "Salvation," but also knows when to keep things intimate, as on the haunting coda of the title track. What distinguishes LP is when she ties these two extremes together with dramatic flair, as she does in the showpiece "Into the Wild," a song that starts hushed but soon explodes. When she's in full flight on "Into the Wild," LP can vocally resemble Neko Case, a comparison that is somewhat misleading; LP may share a taste for melodrama and powerful lungs like Case, but she's not an Americana artist, no matter how heavily she adheres to the tradition of auteur singer/songwriters. What makes LP and Forever for Now compelling is how she brings that distinctive individual stamp into commercial pop; she's part of a tradition but beholden to her times, not the past. As such, she draws upon anyone from Case and Rihanna to Lady Gaga and Patti Smith, turning Forever for Now into a bracing, distinctive debut that's also a statement of purpose.

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