Search The Line of Best Fit
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Lambchop deliver nothing but good news with The Bible

"The Bible"

Release date: 30 September 2022
Lambchop - The Bible cover
30 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

"No one's edgier than me," the electronically tweaked voice of Kurt Wagner announces at the end of "His Song Is Sung", a typically luminous chapter of The Bible.

Both the declaration and the album's sternly grandiose title seem like wry gags coming from Wagner, a modest, unassuming man who is quite clearly more at home as an astute observer of other people’s stunts than a purveyor of ‘edgy’ rock antics.

The chief and sole constant of Lambchop for almost 30 years has a valid point, however. Following a gradual, gently radical shift further away from the ever-evolving Nashville collective’s soul-inspired alt. country roots since autotune- and vocoder-bingeing 2016’s FLOTUS, it’s hard to find an equal to Wagner when it comes to bravely and persistently pushing at the boundaries of his particular musical brand. As well as being warm, wise and often strikingly pretty but also delightfully eccentric and at times fairly bizarre (yet also unfailingly moving), The Bible is pretty out there in its uncompromising idiosyncrasy. Edgy, and on the edge, if you like.

Working with outside producers and co-writers (Andrew Broder and Ryan Olson) for the first time proves a winning move. Lambchop records risk feeling stale whenever Wagner is rehashing previously sampled musical templates, whereas The Bible practically bursts with fresh ideas and untested settings for Wagner’s trademark musings that lift the mundane to the realm of profundity. Whilst Wagner’s voice is again frequently coated in digital interference, more conversational than singing in a conventional sense, prominent gospel-hued backing vocals on the understatedly furious social commentary of “Police Dog Blues” provide the strongest hooks Lambchop has enjoyed since 2000’s breakthrough “Up With People”. The arrangements flit between Lambchop conventions (piano, pedal steel, low-key front porch ruminations) and exuberant blasts of horns, rubbery bass and high tech production touches.

In theory, the jaw-dropping, rubbery melancholy mutant funk of “Little Black Boxes” (Lambchop’s first direct foray to the dancefloor, and surely a smash hit in the waiting) and the almost ambient balladry of “Daisy” (a masterpiece of disjointed heartbreak which sounds like the minimalism of 2002’s Is A Woman interpreted by extra-terrestrials) shouldn’t fit harmoniously in the same act’s catalogue, nevermind back to back on an album. However, The Bible coheres into a seamlessly strong and unified album that deserves to not only be ranked alongside Nixon (2000), Damaged(2006) and Mr. M (2012) as one of the veteran outfit’s strongest, but also celebrated as one of the most remarkably inspired records of 2022.

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