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Lamprey Review

by Ned Raggett

The quartet's second album follows fairly squarely in the path of the first, but Lamprey does have a few differences from Palomine. There's a slightly, but only slightly, more positive tone on some songs, sometimes lyrically, often musically (opener "Keepsake" has a quick enough pace to it, almost turning into a rave-up at points). "Re-Feel-It" has a fun spiky kick to it, the production on the drums being especially catchy. However, when "D. Feathers" comes along, it's clear not all the demons and doubts are gone, the deliberate, quietly beautiful chime of the music and playing matching van Dijk's passionate declarations of self-reliance ("if the whole world should drop dead/I'll build my own inside my head"). The addition of keyboards here is a fine touch, subtle and carefully realized, but the end instrumental break is all about the core foursome; Visser's guitar work is especially something. Other mini-masterpieces of dramatic but not overwrought angst abound throughout. "21 Days" has an especially catching vocal hook in the verses set against the quieter music elsewhere -- while van Dijk's vocals aren't as immediately direct here as on Palomine, they still cut to the heart more often than not. "Tell Me, Sad" and "Crutches" make for an especially good one-two punch toward the end, the former's more stripped-down but still potent punch matched by the latter's full-on rush, showcasing again the members' great ability with instrumental breaks that complement van Dijk's singing. "Totally Freaked Out" is arguably the high point of the album, a massive build of guitars and playing leading, again, to some great soloing over the music's flow, suddenly cutting off to go into the quiet, acoustic-based conclusion "Silent Spring." van Dijk's slightly echoed singing and the gentle playing see out Lamprey in understatedly lovely fashion.

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