Lalu - Atomic Ark [Review]Songwiter and keyboardist Vivien Lalu has grabbed the help of a team of  accomplished musicians including Martin LeMar of Mekong Delta on vocals with his strong clear voice, on this Lalu release and the first for eight years. They all play with great skill and many of the songs are well written. In a clinical, commercial sort of way. And when not next to each other on a record.

It’s an extreme case of a record covering too many styles.

Opener ‘Greed’ starts with some great off-tempo drumming then solid riffing – a good strong piece of metal, sliding well enough into ‘War on Animals’, but soon after that we’re off in some dreamy proggy mix of electronica and guitar. OK, not a bad song, but why the fuck is it anywhere near the opener? It gets further away with ‘Mirror Prison’ and ‘Deep Blue’, but nothing prepares you for the oompah band of ‘Bast’.

There are more and they are all short for progressive songs – under four minutes. There is no big story, no flow, no identity, no soul, no personality.

Indeed the final song is like a medley from a rock opera. Running for around twenty minutes it consists of somewhere between 10 and 15 songs compressed into the one. So where you just heard seven songs with no flow between them-no sense of connectedness, now you get more of the same but compressed and joined into a 20 minute song that dies of its own pretentiousness.

The cinematic opening sees choir singing chords followed by keys and some synth that sounds like so many soundtrack openings, some thunder and rain behind piano arpeggios, some neoclassical piano that seems to be on an old upright with little depth and is a bit of a Spinal Tap ‘Lick My Love Pump’ moment that has no reason to follow what went before. Now at the three minute mark having had the same number of styles, we hit a moderato vocal section with rock opera written all over complete with exaggerated passion like an X-Factor finalist and a crescendo that seems to signal the end of the song as Le Mar zips up his bag or jacket and takes a gun or something after being left for dead at some stage (but he’s still alive and and has ‘no option’ any more after making a vow to himself).

But no the medley is not even half way through yet, with a slight lift in pace and some pan pipes leading to thunderous guitars and drums as he breaks in past a highly fortified location to seek his revenge; “Where are you now! (where are you now) Are you afraid? (are you afraid)” and repeat. And now it’s nu-metal time with some rap; “You! Know! It’s true! I! I! I’m gonna catch you!”, before the syth strings and wailing guitar and a final closing chord. No, just kidding, there’s more. Much more. Now it’s back to the opera for a few seconds before we hit an ’80s sort of swing-rock element and all I can think of is the Cat from Red Dwarf singing ‘Tongue Tied’. It lasts a couple of minutes, yet still there’s more…

Look, I think you get the point. It simply tries to do to much and ultimately becomes a parody of itself.

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