“Lawrence Arabia’s Singles Club” Lawrence Arabia
Indie pop-rock, chamber pop and psychedelic rock. James Milne is a New Zealand-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a wry sense of humor, who offers clever, quirky low-fi, bedroom-style tunes. His fifth album was released in February, consisting of 12 singles written, recorded and released each month on Bandcamp from Jan. – Dec. of 2018. Hence the clever play on “Singles Club.” On this album, Milne goes darker than usual in his observations about modern life (living in the suburbs, highlighted by trips to the mall) and relationships. Some cool songs here — perfect for college radio.
Recommended: 1, 5, 11, 2, 9, 12. FCCs on 4 and 8.
1. (4:33) Solitary Guys — Quiet, strummy, leisurely stroll. Falsetto vocals. Piano and drums. ****
2. (3:03) Everything’s Minimal (Feat. Tiny Ruins) — Fuzz synth. Harpsichord and autoharp. Strummed guitar and march-like drums. Duet with Hollie Fullbrook, also known as Tiny Ruins. ***
3. (6:11) One Unique Creature — Fragile piano in this delicate, floating chamber-pop waltz. Synth and strings. Clocklike tempo. Lengthy, experimental trail-out.
4. (3:02) A Little Hate — Chugging, guitar-driven psych-rock. Solid drumming by Liam Finn. Duet with Heather Mansfield on vocals. FCCs: “shitty” and “dicks” (4 times)
5. (4:07) Everybody Wants Something — Pulsing, lightly swaying synth-pop. Chimey and playful keys. Guitar with effects. ****
6. (2:06) Cecily — Beatles era psych-rock. Storytelling lyrics. Busy bass line and searing guitar solos.
7. (3:23) Meaningless Words — Rich, harmonized vocals over languid keys. Halting tempo. Throwback woodwinds, brass and strings in lead breaks.
8. (4:40) People Are Alright — A bit of a slog. Piano and other keys. Acerbic vocals about how most people aren’t alright, but a few are. FCC: “shit” (twice) and “arsehole”
9. (3:18) A Walk Into The Suburbs — Dreamy pop with swelling synth strings and skipping drums. Violin in lead break. Lyrics about how people in the suburbs take refuge in the bland life found in malls. ***
10. (2:45) (Contagious Dream Heals The World) — Instrumental. Swirling and atmospheric. Wurlitzer organ. Gets bolder toward the end.
11. (4:11) Oppositional Democracy — Uplifting piano-based ballad that builds into a 1970s-style rock anthem. Lilting melody. Handclaps. Harmonies in the chorus. Distorted guitar in the trail-out. ***
12. (3:19) Just Sleep (Your Shame Will Keep) — 1930s or 1940s era pop. Like a soundtrack to an old-time movie romance. Woodwinds and synth orchestration. **