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Album Review: Lakes - The Agreement

There will be far more respected people in the music industry, giving far more effusive praise to Lakes’ 'The Agreement' than I can, but for what it is worth, this is a little gem of an album. From the first notes of 'Broadlyn' this is an album that smacks of undoubted quality. Managing to sound both lo-fi and heart-wrenchingly epic at the same time, 'Broadlyn' just dominates your speakers and I would go as far as to call it the closest you can get to an audio hug. Play it through headphones and it will absolutely envelop you – it is surely one of the best album openers of the year.

Lakes seem to have a sort of As Tall As Lions/Inkwell type thing going on. Jaunty musicianship with slightly melancholy lyrics combine to create an album of contrasting emotions, on the surface it is as catchy an indie album you will hear this side of The Format, but once again, when the headphones go on and you scratch below the surface you find the raw emotions are the heartbeat behind every song. 'The Ghost and the Man', one of the most powerful songs on the album, is carried by Seth Roberts’ soaring vocals, a song I enjoy despite it sounding like a Coldplay song. The guitar in the background of this song just gently keeps it going so the listener can fully appreciate Roberts’ superb vocal and lyrical work. Somewhat bizarrely the next song 'The Feeling' could easily pass as a slower Alkaline Trio song – perhaps based mostly on the fact that Roberts’ versatile vocal chords seem to emulate Dan Andriano for the verses. But it is another example of how Lakes can create an almost showtune style musical number while sounding like an indie rock band. It is reminiscent of how The Format could combine the upbeat music with the emotional lyrics on Dog Problems.

The strangest track on the album award belongs to 'Sweet Dream', an Eastern European sounding song complete with accordion and plucked mandolin. It is a memorable track, being such a departure from the rest of the album, but it lacks the soaring hook and craft of some of the other tracks on the album and is perhaps too much of a departure. 'It’s You It’s Me' serves as the perfect reminder to the band just how special they can be when they just play it simple, a message that I rarely advocate for any band. Guitar, simple percussion, lead mandolin and some beautifully arranged strings to support the vocals is all Lakes need to do to create a top quality track.

'The Agreement' does seem to slow down towards its conclusion, with a number of lower tempo tracks, though this is not necessarily a bad thing, I would be lying if I did not say that perhaps there were one or two tracks too many on this album though. It is not always better to burn out than fade away, and in ‘fading’ the album out, Lakes allow the listener to see the album through to its conclusion reflecting on the whole thing as a journey. At just over 2 minutes, 'The Agreement Song', the penultimate track, is one of the best songs on 'The Agreement', again showcasing Lakes’ brilliance in simplicity it draws the listener in and sets the listener up for the closer 'I Was There'. In listening to the album from the start to finish the listener is forced to reflect on how far the album has travelled from the start of 'Broadlyn' to the end of 'I Was There' and I can only conclude that 'The Agreement' succeeds because it is such a coherent piece of work.

Lakes’ 'The Agreement' is a truly wonderful album. It is unlikely that you will hear an album that soars as high but as gently as this, carried on Seth Roberts’ beautiful voice and his painfully honest lyrics. Employing various instruments and styles throughout the album it is when Lakes play it simple that they ascend to their highest. Music, at its simplest, is about drawing the listener in as close as you can, making them listen to every note and every word as carefully as they would read every word of a classic novel – Lakes have the ability to do this, and it is showcased on this album. Highly recommended.


'The Agreement' by Lakes is available now.

Lakes on MySpace.

Nick Robbins

Alter The Press!