While my original plan was to review Edward Sharpe’s new album this week, I was interrupted with a surprise release by LAKE titled Circular Doorway. I previously reviewed Ashley Eriksson’s new solo album, which was dropped this past Wednesday. No one had expected something from the whole band as well, let alone an entire album. Self-released through Bandcamp, LAKE kept it on the hush, only to tell people of an upcoming release without revealing the date. Their fan page was blowing up that day, first unveiling Circular Doorway, then announcing another album, The World Is Real, that will be released in September. The members of LAKE have certainly been busy this year, so I guess they deserve this amount of attention for the time being.
Two new albums in one year sounded great, but it seemed as if Circular Doorway stood alone among the band’s discography. It feels almost like they recorded a jam session, with much more percussion and catchy rifts than ever before. I then discovered that the band had only six days to collaborate and record these songs, so it makes much more sense for this album to sound more like a session of some sort. The second new release, The World Is Real, is described as a more clean cut album, as Eli Moore explains, “One record was on purpose and the other was by accident”. I did enjoy Circular Doorway, but I don’t think I could compare it to their bigger releases like Let’s Build A Roof and Giving & Receiving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super glad that LAKE crafted these ten tracks and then promised more along the way. I definitely respect this group much more now.
Perhaps this was not the intended analogy, but Circular Doorway may in fact be a doorway into LAKE’s future sound, which is more digital and exotic. It is no surprise that they have been leaning over this way to appeal to a larger audience. The best part, however, is that LAKE still maintains its authenticity; the soft seventy’s style music with various vocals and jazzy elements. If anything, I might enjoy this broadened sound even more.
What better example is there than the title track which is the album’s opener. It starts out in a whimsical melody but eventually twists into an eerie instrumental. “What You See Is What You Get” carries on with a familiar blues progression, but there’s some catchy vocals and interesting percussion as well. “Don’t Hate Yourself” was one of my least favorite tracks, for I thought they could do without the hey hey’s, na na’s, la la’s, and dut du’s; however, the album does have nice variation in songs like “Crying Room”, where the saxophone and electric piano are played as if it were an old club scene. “Positive Warning” is probably one of the catchiest songs on the album, with quite engaging beat and vocals.
The second half of Circular Doorway begins with the lovely tune, “No Wonder I”, the album's only single which also happens to be BMO’s favorite song. My favorite songs are “Torpedoes” and “Relief”, simply because they are cool, collected and really hard to get out of your head! Yawrood was a recorded instrumental that is played backwards (“Doorway” for those of you who didn't notice). It feels natural despite the rigid sound. “Alone”, the album closer, is no less as rhythmic and catchy as the rest of the album.
Although Circular Doorway is short and not as professionally made as the rest of their discography, LAKE managed to pull off an amazing ten tracks that contain some of the catchiest music the band has ever written. Kudos to LAKE for a great release. I was surprised indeed!