Lackthereof - 'Your Anchor'

‘Your Anchor’ is the ninth album from Lackthereof, although only the third to gain commercial distribution. For those not in the know, the outfit was originally conceived as a recording-mah-muzak-in-the-basement-and-givin’-it-to-mah-friends kind of vehicle by Danny Seim, who has since achieved more wide-spread renown with his indie-rock outfit Menomena. One can see the attraction of continuing to produce albums through Lackthereof however, the low-fi, zero-budget constraints allowing complete artistic freedom.

Sparse guitar and bass, down-beat lyrics and some vigorous drumming are the order of the day. ‘Fire Trial’ is good, a simple bass figure being filled out with some lazily harmonised guitars and white-noise synths over which Seim chants exhaustedly ‘lessons learnt by fire trial, scythe the mind that went out of style’. Cheerful it ain’t but it’s certainly interesting, Seim seeming to enjoy throwing the odd curveball at the listener, as with the false finish that punctuates ‘Choir Practice’.

The laid-back ‘Doomed Elephants’ breezes past enjoyably, before the album sinks into the turgid quicksand of ‘Locked Upstairs’. ‘Last November’ is probably the most upbeat track included, an almost uplifting (gasp!) indie anthem • it even has a key-change for the final chorus; radical stuff • while ‘Ask Permission’ reminds one of Radiohead’s more recent finer moments. ‘Vacant Eyes’ works well also, a haze of guitars reminiscent of Sigur Ros forming a lavish backdrop to Seim’s broken vocals, all held together by the hypnotic bass.

The album closes with a cover of ‘Fake Empire’ from last years’ wonderful ‘Boxer’ by The National, one of Seim’s favourite contemporary indie bands. Seim’s frail, husky vocals suit the track well, lending the wearied mantra ‘we’re half-awake in a fake empire’ even more of a sense of collapsing defeat than in the original. Many will no doubt find ‘Your Anchor’ unchangingly resigned • and it does become a bit wearing after a while. Repeated listens become rewarding however and for those who can tolerate it, there are some great songs to be found.