With Only the Lonely James Lavelle gives us a look into his darkening mind. Now well over a decade old his trip-hop-psyche-ambient outfit is starting to feel a little dated (see Where did the Night Fall), yet with Only the Lonely there are some remarkably current cuts here, just juicy enough to keep people coming back. As with Where did the Night Fall it doesn’t seem to be pushing any new boundaries but the quality of song-writing is more than enough to keep the vehicle afloat. Here James Lavelle brings us a new selection of guests, most notably from Nick Cave who is presently riding the high of an improbably marked career, as well as Duke Spirit’s Liela Moss and Sleepy Sun’s Rachel Fannan. And of course where would we be without long time collaborator Gavin Clarke making his commonplace appearance on the track ‘Wash the Love Away’.
Throughout the five tracks offered here Lavelle’s recent trip into murkier psychedelic waters is now well and truly a conventional theme, having broached this darker side on Where did the Night Fall. Opening track ‘Money and Run’ starts with a whirling electronic thrum that grows and grows before the beats kick in and Nick Cave starts his tract with traditional authenticity. The production is dark and heavy, the drums are not restrained and added with the heavy fug of the guitar it brings about its own peculiar wash. This sound is then forcibly painted over the rest of the record in various dubby splashes. It’s notable though that Nick Cave gets a track that veers in tempo and form to the rest of the EP, sounding more like a dirtier Black Keys track as it pulses along to an up-tempo beat. I’m not sure what this means, whether it’s a particular statement, or an element of Nick Cave’s only musical lineage but what it seems to do is separate it and put in its own peculiar space.
‘The Dog is Black’ moves the EP back into more familiar territory, relying on a bleached trip-hop beat. It’s a great song and sits as one of the highlights of the album. Again that psychedelic resonance that Lavelle seems to draw upon recently plays excellently into the hands of this song. ‘Only the Lonely’, the EPs title-track, is an instrumental piece that builds gradually around lifting harmonies. It seeks to tie to the tracks together, building on previous and forthcoming sounds as if an imprint for what the EP should sound like, ‘Money and Run’ excluded. Gavin Clarke works very well within this specified sound and ‘Wash the Love Away’ is a distinct example of what he can do and where he can take his vocals. In this sphere it’s very much an allude to late nineties leftfield music where passion is derived from repetition, much like the dance based music that it had originated from. Finally ‘Sunday Song’ (feat Rachel Fannan) rounds the EP off in much the same fashion that has persisted throughout. It’s an excellent performance and the murky sounds offer an interesting glimpse through the lens at Lavelle’s creation. However, while the EP offers us these magnificent glimpses into what he and his slew of guests can produce, it is ultimately doomed before it starts. It seems all too familiar, we have been here before, and we have heard better.