Sometimes there are albums that totally catch you off guard on the first listen. You’re not really sure what to expect or what you hear goes completely against your expectations. The debut album by Black Country, New Road is such an example. From the first single the band’s music completely overwhelmed me.
I feel the same way about Lankum. Even though the band has been around for a while, I was unfamiliar with them until their latest album. Mea culpa. When I listened to “False Lankum” for the first time a few weeks ago, I was simply blown away by it. What the hell had I just listened to?
Irish Folk meets Drone, Sunn O))) meet The Pogues
The album, spanning a respectable 70 minutes, starts off quite catchy with a folk-infused gospel section. As a listener, unsuspecting of any harm, the song abruptly transitions around the four-and-a-half-minute mark into a droning soundstorm that strongly reminded me of recent recordings by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It caused such horror in one of my cats that I quickly switched to listening on headphones. It was an eight-minute monster of a song that I had to process.
Following that is “Clear Away In The Morning”, a nearly classic folk song, also spanning seven minutes. A brief instrumental interlude (Fugue I) is followed by “Master Crowley’s”, a song that I would expect to hear in an Irish pub. But the impression is deceptive because at some point, that apocalyptic drone resurfaces from the speakers, reminiscent more of Sunn O))) than The Pogues. It certainly won’t be crowned as the new anthem for St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s a good thing, too.
„False Lankum“ pushes the boundaries of folk rock
Without going through each song individually at this point, it can be said that Lankum pushes the boundaries of traditional folk rock. The result is not an easy album to listen to casually. There are no hits here. It’s not the kind of album you can play in the background while entertaining friends. “False Lankum” demands your complete attention. And by “demand,” I mean that’s exactly what the twelve songs do. The German music magazine Musikexpress sums it up quite well: “Well-bearded Irish folk in which the gates to hell open.” It’s best enjoyed through headphones, not only to protect sensitive cat ears, but also to fully appreciate the dark brilliance of this monstrous album. “False Lankum” is simply sensational, and I would bet that it will appear on many end-of-year lists of the best albums of 2023. Perhaps even on the one by Vinyl Fantasy Mag… who knows!?
Vinyl of the week as an indie exclusive edition
In your local record store you can choose between regular black vinyl and an indie exclusive edition on transparant orange vinyl. That’s it. In some UK record stores you can purchase a limited edition including a print. The edition with a print signed by the band, which was exclusively sold via the label Rough Trade Records, is already sold out.