Based in Newcastle, England since their formation, Lanterns on the Lake have historically kept their recording practices in-house, opting to track songs in their homes and other improvised studio spaces, even after signing with a label that would provide funds to do otherwise. For their fourth album, Spook the Herd, they finally did venture outside of their comfort zone to work with engineer Joss Worthington (the Membranes, Pete Coe) at a studio in Yorkshire. The band still oversaw production. Fine-tuning their sound instead of marking a significant change in presentation, they emerge with another solid set of songs distinguished by rich, dreamy, acoustic-electronic textures and singer Hazel Wilde's brooding lyricism. Arriving five years after 2015's Beings, Spook the Herd reflects the increased political tensions and accumulating existential threats from that time span. Alongside atmospheric keys, noir-like electric guitar, and loose, echoing drums, the cautionary "Baddies" opens with the lyrics "Don't look now/Here come the baddies/On a wave of hate." A relatively animated track for the typically gentle, sinuous indie rockers, it features churning strings and volatile guitar moments later in the song. Similarly merging hypnotic soundscapes and simmering tension are tracks with titles like "This Is Not a Drill" and "Blue Screen Beams." The more reflective "Secrets & Medicine" relies on languorous, unison piano and guitar to accompany Wilde, eventually adding blended brass and glistening electronics for a sound that's at once blurry and spare. Poignant closer "A Fitting End" likewise mines emotion from simple components, including strummed acoustic guitar, ethereal backing vocals, and wailing feedback. After "burning my bridges and all this shit we don't need," the song ends on the ambiguous "What a fitting ending/What a perfect scene/What a die-for moment this turned out to be." Ultimately, four albums in, Spook the Herd proves Lanterns on the Lake to be one of the most consistent acts in the business.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson