Let's Build a Roof

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The indie pop collective from Olympia known as LAKE released one of 2008's most enjoyable records made by an indie pop collective with Oh, the Places We'll Go. In fact, it was just plain enjoyable, filled with soulful jams and quietly happy tunes perfect for summertimes. The 2009 follow-up, Let's Build a Roof, is less cheery and laid-back and more experimental and melancholy. The change isn't drastic; it's not like they've become Battles or signed to Tzadik. More like they've loosened up their songwriting some and added a few more instrumental colors to their playbook, more sonic twists and turns. The bandmembers still split songwriting and lead vocal duties, mainly between Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson with help from Lindsay Schief, but they all seem to be on the same page stylistically. Maybe the best way to explain the stylistic shift is by looking at album artwork. On Places it was a cute and simple illustration, and the band's sound matched that. Here, they sound like the kind of band that would have an embroidered-looking cover and paint it on what appears to be a headboard. And then take it out into an actual lake. An indie pop jam band, in other words. Pastoral chamber jam, that is, with off-kilter horn arrangements, thickly weaved production (courtesy of Karl Blau), and mysterious songs. Indeed, very few of the tracks this time out are as easy to follow and love as Places' "Blue Ocean Blue" or its title track, but -- and this is an important qualifier -- they are as quietly effective if you give them a chance to sink. It's easy to damn a record by calling it a grower, but Let's Build a Roof truly does become better the more often you listen to it, as the melodies grow like vines and the richness of the sound begins to resonate fully. It's an important step forward from a band who could have easily made the same record over and over, but instead chose to take some chances. This kind of artistic growth should be applauded, especially when the results are as interesting as they are on Let's Build a Roof.

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