New city. New equipment. New songwriting processes. A lot changed in Julie Campbell’s world for album number three, but her ability to create innovative, invigorating, elastically creative music as Lonelady remains undimmed.
Whether armed with a guitar and drum machine or ditching the Telecaster in favour of a few synthesisers and hardware, she constantly finds ways to build, clash and coax a patchwork of artful noise that sounds like she’s packed in a wardrobe somewhere, an array of instruments close at hand, corralling and conducting a brilliantly scatty symphony.
Here, her solitary process of writing, performing and recording everything bursts through with a fun, taut intensity – a jittery but tangible kind of genius that unravels all of the threads, and instinctively knows which one to pull and when. It’s there on the jerky time signatures and chunky staccato piano of ‘Time Time Time’, in the sweet funk and ‘Blue Monday’ percussive slaps on ‘Fear Colours’, and gets weird on the squelching electronica and syncopated neon groan of ‘Threats’.
But for all of the avant-garde, eight-bit gyrations, Former Things is packed tight with ideas. It’s Campbell in her groove, playing with her new toys, bang in the middle of a vortex that involves you as much as it does her. And sure, it’s an album that makes demands as it busily contorts the modern with the analogue in the best kind of contradictions, but when you’re armed with tracks that are always on the attack, why worry? It’s on everyone else to try and keep up.
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