Lambchop - FLOTUS 2xLP


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Label: Merge

Our Review:

A quarter century into its history, Lambchop is still finding new ways to remain unclassifiable. With new album For Love Often Turns Us Still (officially FLOTUS in reference/deference to the First Lady, an imagined one it seems as that sure isn't Michelle on the cover next to the Presidential Flag), Kurt Wagner and his revolving-door cast venture into previously uncharted territory. Gone are the string sections and gently strummed acoustic guitars. Gone, in fact, is almost any perceptible influence from Wagner's homebase of Nashville and his resultant idiosyncratic take on countrypolitan – something which had been a consistent through line in his work until now. All of that has been replaced by drum machines and synthesizers.

Before you fret that FLOTUS is an unfortunate trip back in time to the early aughts and the so-called "folk-tronica" genre that has rightfully been forgotten, remember that this is Kurt Wagner and his inscrutable songwriting and that hushed voice can make things work in spite of themselves. There is some glitch on here reminiscent of the early 2000s IDM, but there's also sounds of New Order, krautrock, mid-to-late '80s Steve Roach, the Hearts of Space catalog and even the dentist's office side of R&B. Bookended by two 10+ minute long tunes, the opener is maybe the most reminiscent of anything Lambchop has done in the past in that it is at heart a rock song, while the closer "The Hustle" (clocking in at 18 full minutes) might be the least Lambchop-y song in the catalog. It begins with a Roach and Hassell-esque intro, before going full motorik krautrock, ending at Van McCoy if Van were on Quaaludes. Lambchop has built a career on being willfully hard to peg and the only thing that is certain with FLOTUS is that it's the least "Lambchop" Lambchop record yet.