No seatbelts… just balls out rock and roll.
Four years have passed since the introduction of Lenman’s sonic life after Reuben with Muscle Memory. This album was quite unlike anything that most fans could have postulated from the enigmatic frontman – essentially a split record with the “muscle” side showcasing brutal hardcore songs and the “memory” side being a noticeably calmer folk-like homage. One may discern that this was an attempt to distance himself from past ventures – I Ain’t Your Boy being a track that essentially confirms this notion. That being said, Lenman is still sure to include cult hits from Reuben’s impressive career in his live sets which is a clear indicator that he hasn’t completely lost touch with his past.
Bearing this in mind, the music that he has been releasing lately is the most Reuben-esque since their split. Potentially an unfair comparison and one that Lenman himself may want to avoid, after all, this is an entirely separate project however, it is an inevitable comparison that will arise. The first single of this new era of Lenman, Mississippi, is a stomping track with an emphasis on percussion – the highlight being the borderline staccato chant in the outro – a certain crowd pleaser. Following that, we were shown Waterloo Teeth which was regarded by many as the song that best illustrates the direction in which Lenman is headed – less awkward time signatures and screaming – back to basics.
Now, we have Hell In A Fast Car. Opening with a sweeping drum pattern that sets the pace for the track – the heavy use of the ride cymbal really gives the song an air of urgency that suits perfectly. Lenman’s guitar enters with a typically simple, yet effective riff that is intermitted by a couple of dead notes that just serve to bolster the percussive element that had already been established by the tubs – reminiscent of Mississippi and a sign of a timbre-conscious musician. The vocals are trademark – Lenman has an unmistakable voice that abolishes any anonymity – this icon is at large again. The pre-chorus and chorus are layered with varying vocal tracks – some falsetto, some biting shouts that we have come to expect after years of hearing it. These disparate textures ensure variety and prevent the listener from gaining an unfounded complacency when listening to the track.
The breakdown is a welcome change of pace, while the tempo does remain the same throughout the track, Lenman’s vocals almost reducing to a whisper gives the listener the slightest bit of respite before launching back into the breakneck. My only issue with the song lies purely in structure – it’s too linear. We all fell in love with Lenman’s music for that which was low in frequency, that is to say, the aspects that we don’t hear from other musicians. A section that ceases the drum beat that carries throughout the entire track and changes it up slightly would offer a cutting edge that, in my opinion, it lacks.
Hell In A Fast Car is undeniably a great song and, coupled with the announcement of a new album (titled Devolver), it was a well-received unveiling. These upcoming releases from Lenman look set to be some of his best work yet – a compliment that is made with great fervour, considering the depth and quality of his discography. Get excited guys.