Leaves you wondering where Kurt Wagner's capable of going from here
Henry Barnes 2008-10-03
Ten albums into a 22-year career and Nashville alt country collective Lambchop are sounding increasingly like a band with diminishing returns. They're stuck on repeat and waiting for the odd wave of critical recognition to wash over them. The last one was in 2000: the year they released the hugely popular, but stylistically similar Nixon LP. And while fans of that and subsequent work will find much to love here, the so-low-key-as-to-be-almost-invisible approach is now wearing thin.
''You disregard the clock that's on the wall'', sings frontman, Kurt Wagner, on National Talk Like A Pirate Day and with the amount of time that he's had to dig up some fresh ideas you have to believe he's being self-referential. There's great stuff here – the winsomely lovelorn I'm Thinking Of A Number Between 1 and 2, in particular. But it all sounds both depressing and depressingly familiar.
Let's put this into perspective using the biggest of benchmarks. There were five years between The Beatles' Please, Please Me and their tenth album, The White Album. Five years between the simple and raucous I Saw Her Standing There and the introspective and intricate While My Guitar Gently Weeps. MBEs and God complexes, acid drops and transcendental meditation fuelled some of the most inspired pop music ever made along the way. And they burnt out in less than half the time that Wagner and his forever-changing line-up of backing musicians have been trawling the circuit.
It's not that Wagner doesn’t know how to play his hand - OH (Ohio) is as smart and deft as Lambchop ever were - but he fills his quota of loves lost, chances missed and souls left lonely far too methodically. It's tick list melancholia, same as it ever was, all buoyed up by meandering guitar figures and delivered at a pace that rarely gets above a trot.
OH (Ohio) leaves you wondering where Kurt Wagner's capable of going from here, or (more worryingly) whether he was that bothered about going anywhere in the first place.