Thursday, July 03, 2008

Week 6: "The Darkside" & "Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol" by L.P.

I first heard the Brooklyn-based rock band L.P. by accident. I went to hear Kansas City’s own punk-rock band The Architects at The Record Bar, one of KC’s best venues, and L.P. was on the bill.

The front-woman for L.P. is something to behold. Completely androgynous, I would estimate that she is probably a little bit less than 5 feet tall and weighs around 90 pounds. She looks exactly like a 12 year old boy. Loose fitting jeans, a band T-shirt, and boots only disguise her gender further. In addition her hair is a nest of curly red strands. Appearances deceive. I was doubtful about the potential of this band until she strapped on an electric guitar and belted out song after song with impressive rock & roll bravado. The performance was electrifying and sincere and impassioned.

Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol is L.P.’s second album. It features a number of goods songs, including the opening track “Wasted” as well as the catchy number “Heartless.” But I want to focus on two songs that bookend her range as an artist. “The Darkside” is an up-beat rock song with bright guitars and syncopated rhythms. The lyrics are an in-your-face manifesto about choosing another direction in life.

The song is slightly ambiguous about whether it is a break-up song or a song describing another kind of leaving. The lyrics to the chorus go, “I hope you’re happy with your ordinary life / It’s the wrong place, the wrong time / The Darkside.” Is the voice in the song singing about leaving “The Darkside” to seek out a life less ordinary? Or, is she unfulfilled with the (false) promises of ordinariness and has chosen a more dangerous and adventurous path? Either way, the song is perfectly paced so as to give the impression of movement, departure, and seeking. Whether journeying into the light or embracing the mystery of the darkside, this song is tinged with wonderful sentiments of liberation and self-actualization.

By contrast, the album’s title track is equally well-conceived, but is the Darkside’s opposite in a number of ways. Instead of a pulsing bass and blaring guitars, “Suburban Sprawl” begins with some noodling on an acoustic guitar and an exposed voice singing the verse practically a capella followed by a chorus with diminutive instrumentation. The song then slowly builds straightforwardly into a true rock ballad. By the final chorus, L.P. is belting out the lyrics with sheer force. This song, like “The Darkside,” expresses a profound longing.

Make sure you go to L.P.’s web-site and check out photos of the band and their music player where you can (at least right now) listen to the entire SS&A album.