Album Review :
Lakes - The Agreement

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Band: Lakes
Title: The Agreement
Label: None
Release Date: 9/3/2010
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund

Tracklisting:

  1. Broadlyn
  2. The Heart Is an Anchor
  3. Oh Lovely
  4. Ghost and the Man
  5. The Feeling
  6. Back In Your Head
  7. Sweet Dream
  8. Loose Fix*
  9. The Tree
  10. When We Were Younger
  11. It’s You It’s Me*
  12. Lifting Me Up*
  13. The Agreement Song
  14. I Was There

*Available on the physical album but not online versions

Formed from former members of Watashi Wa (with whom I am admittedly unfamiliar), Lakes carries a Snow Patrol light rock vibe that’s maybe a little bouncier. The band features an abundant use of keys and even some organ and a bit of accordion. Did I mention the smattering of strings, horns, and background vocals? The instrumentation lends some nice flavors to this folky pop without overdoing it.

If somebody put them in a movie soundtrack, “Oh Lovely” would go in the fireworks part of the relationship: We could go out / We could stay in / We’ve got this beautiful day /¬†We could just sing / We could just dance / We’ve got this beautiful day. And the song “The Feeling” would fit perfectly in the part where everything starts to break: She said ‘Love, I’m losing that feeling / And I’m not going to leave / But I just don’t think I can stay.'”

Some of the slower anthems are both lush and rough, punctuated by the occasional minor chord that might be what Thrice would sound like if they wrote pop ballads. (“Sweet Dream,” with its sweet mandolin riff and dry percussion, feels at home with the Earth volume of the Alchemy Index.) Sometimes the resonating drum pounding and vocalizing sound more like a Phil-Collins-African-jungle-ride (especially at the end of “When We Were Younger”). The clear vocal delivery from Seth Roberts is pleasant on the softer songs, but it really expands to fill the musical space on the more energetic numbers, and he hits the higher notes well.

With equal parts sadness, hope, and confidence, the lyrics express earnest desires and ambitions to take risks, keep commitments, and drive bikes into the city. Some of the songs are just vaguely emotional, but they’re more than made up for by the solid songwriting elsewhere. “The Tree” asks, What if all we found was an empty culture? / What if all we found was a pompous voice? /…Religious minds, too narrow to let love in. “The Heart Is An Anchor” portrays a determination to ride out the waves of life together: You can tell me I’m wrong, and I’ll tell you I’m weak, and it’s ok.

Overall: Lakes keeps things fresh and interesting from beginning to end with both quiet calm and driving energy. Their smart indie rock sound is accompanied by an assortment of instrumentation, and the strong songwriting makes it even better. I find more to like about the album with each listen.