A musical collaboration born out of a chance meeting, Lump is the creation of Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay. Introduced to each other at a bowling alley following the former’s Neil Young support slot at The O2, they immediately hit it off and were in the recording studio just two days later. Lindsay had for some time been working on an intricate form of sound cycle, (much of which forms the backdrop to this album), and in Marling he found a kindred spirit. Together, they have brought into the world a surreal, hypnotically beautiful piece of music that is almost like a stream of consciousness at times. Drawing inspiration from a wide array of subjects, from crab bites, Father John Misty and the Surrealist Manifesto, Lump is a strange beast – even the project itself is named after an idea from Marling’s six-year-old goddaughter. It is captivating and addictive, though, and will easily find itself placed on repeat.
Starting with ‘Late To The Flight’, an electric hum buzzes in the background, the overall sound lo-fi and scratchy. Everything sounds ever-so-slightly and deliberately ‘off’, an interesting choice from Lindsay. There is a dream-like quality to everything, even as Marling enters with short and exquisitely sung lyrics before the track moves into a heady psychedelic middle section. With vocals harking back to some of the classic psych-folk bands from the 60s and 70s, Marling harmonising with herself, there is a sense that at any point the listener could wake up saddened at a dream left behind. With no gaps between tracks, each song merges fully into the next only heightening the sense of claustrophobia.
Lump contains many surprising detours and changes of pace, and to list them all would be to spoil the surprise. Suffice to say that a whole new, playful side to Marling emerges – while for Lindsay, there is a sense of form being given to the previously intangible. The collaboration clearly works for both of them, and a fascinating album is the result. The scratchy combination of flutes and gentle keyboards on ‘Rolling Thunder’ produces something with more than a little similarity to Joan As Police Woman, while ‘Curse Of The Contemporary’ is a more grounded track that calls back to Marling’s California days. Her vocals have never been more stretched or more versatile than on Lump, ‘Hand Hold Hero’ is almost blues-like in her delivery. In short, she has never sounded better.
Finishing back where it started in the dream state of ‘Shake Your Shelter’, it is a suitably psychedelic moment on which to finish on (at least until the spoken credits that make up ‘Lump Is A Product’ finally close the album). It is a record that is as consistently fascinating as it is exciting, a new look at someone who is already one of British music’s most talented (and criminally under-rated) artists. You can tell that both Marling and Lindsay have found in each other musical muses with which to create a whole new world of possibility. More please, much more.