There was a study done in the past couple of years that showed the likelihood of you not listening to new music or styles increases exponentially the closer you get to thirty years old, and then going off the chart once you past the milestone. Now, I grew up in a house that mostly played your stereotypical 60s, 70s and 80s pop and rock. A lot of my current musical taste can be easily traced back to these styles and bands, with a huge nod pointing towards your jazz, blues and soul classics that filtered through Dad’s stereo in the late 90s and 2000s.
For the most part, when I show my Dad new music now, he’ll dismiss it as weird and not for him. But when I showed him Lake Street Dive a couple years back, his ears piqued and the old man became hooked. I’m yet to show him their new album, Obviously, but I have no doubt that despite being more than twice as old as that magical thirty years barrier, he’ll froth it. As would anyone who enjoys strong vocals, tender love songs, 80’s throwbacks and all-round stellar music.
Now onto their seventh studio album, the Brooklyn-based five piece has for the most part toned things down a little on Obviously. Though they’ve kept just enough of their juicy soul and funk to ensure your ears are continually interested throughout the eleven track run.
Working closely with producer Mike Elizondo, the band has utilised the hip hop history of the producer (having worked with Dr Dre and Mary J Blige amongst others) to craft an album that is surely to deliver the goods for long term and not so long term fans.
Opening song “Hypotheticals” starts off with the instantly recognisable vocals of Rachael Price and is matched with an equally slinky mix of jazz, pop, soul and sneaky closing chorus harmonies. It’s followed up by “Hush Money”, a cut you can just visualise strutting across a big blues festival stage. Obviously then commences in a strong and seemingly unstoppable way.
“Same Old News”, a duet between Price and new band mate Akie Bermiss, showcases the strengths of both voices, as they intertwine over its more than four minute run. A fun look back on the enduring love a couple have for each other, even after the longest time, “Same Old News” is a little ditty that closes out the opening quarter of Obviously beautifully.
Possibly the most timely and thought provoking of the album’s songs is “Being a Woman”, a not so subtle commentary on just how shit woman really do have it in all realms of existence. Perhaps timely considering we’ve just celebrated International Women’s Day, the album takes the systemic misogyny of all industries head on. ‘Being a woman is a full time job / 80 cents to the dollar’ is one of the many lyrics that ever so clearly and plainly points out the myriad of flaws in society that women have to deal with on the day-to-day. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
Apologising to future generations for how shit previous and current generations have left the world, “Making Do” is a blunt protest song of sorts that laments how truly messed up the world is and will be into the future. “Know That I Know” is a playful and wordy track that contrasts the differences and similarities between two potential lovers. It’s a fun and loving four minutes that pulls the band’s best parts out of the periphery and makes it a focal point. It’s pretty great.
As the band takes the chance to slow things down a little over the closing four songs of the album, Obviously does start to lose a little bit of its magic. “Anymore” is a slow 80s saxophone throwback, while “Feels Like the Last Time” has a pre-programmed samba vibe to it (the melodica in the middle of the song is its saving grace). “Sarah” is an entirely acapella track that brings the album to an ultimately dour close after what was such a fun and promising beginning.
While definitely not their best release, Obviously is the type of album that will for the most part translate fantastically to a live setting, and leave all listeners more than glad they took the time to get to know the band; even if they’re older than 30 and listening for the first time.
THREE AND HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Lake Street Dive’s new album, Obviously is out Friday March 12th on Nonesuch Records. Pre-order the album HERE.