The Books: The Lemon of Pink
|the books: the lemon of pink|
tomlab: october 7, 2003
"Something is happening which is not happening at all."
The Books are an oustandingly difficult band. Listening to The Lemon of Pink all the way through requires either all of your attention or none of it. Either its soft, electronic sound makes it perfect background music or its horrifying complexity makes it completely engrossing foreground music; if you're only paying some attention, you'll miss something important, the album's sense of flow will be interrupted, and you'll have to start all over again. If you're looking for accessibility, turn back now. Don't even finish reading this review.
The combination of these sounds, mechanical and warm, are what gives The Lemon of Pink its striking originality and, despite its often aimless and spotty whole, its overall sense of overwhelming pleasantness. When overwhelming synthetic complexity meets beautifully acoustic warmth in just the right way, the result is astonishing: "There is No There", for example, lays plucky strings over a glitchy IDM bass line for a suspenseful introduction, which builds up to a combination of electronically modified lyrics and acoustic guitar so astoundingly beautiful as to make for the highlight of the album and one of the greatest musical moments of the year. "The Future, Wouldn't That Be Nice" adds cut-up audience laughter to the otherwise happy sound, making the song vaguely terrifying in a beautiful way.
But the entire album's not like this, oh no - that would be too easy. Rather, the rest of the album is a constant buildup to what will come later, or a constant cooling off from what came before. The entire album is beautiful, but most of it in a far less accessible way - chanted gibberish, cut-up conversations; some parts will appeal only to electronic fans and some only to analog fans - the "Lemon of Pink"s are more or less free from electronic manipulation and are more straightforward (in instrumentation, at least).
The songs highlighted below are the ones that stand alone the best - the rest of the album surrounding them is required, but "There is No There", "The Future", "Tokyo" and "That Right" help to adjust from whatever you were listening to before to The Lemon of Pink's challenge. If you're up to it, this album will reward you in a way few others this year can. If you're not, give it a while - I loathed it upon first listen - but I'd still understand.
songs with arrows are the highlights as chosen by the reviewer. hear those first.
Múm: Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today is OK
Ms. John Soda: No P. or D.
reviewed by noah.
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