Album Review: Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys – Heaving (Unique Records)

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Album Reviews, Blog

In the ever-so-monochrome palette of contemporary music, where echoes often drown originality, Lucy Kruger & The Losy Boys’ 2023 album, Heaving, is able to cast shadows and illumination in equal measure. This audacious departure from the band’s acclaimed, albeit more traditional, pen-and-paper songwriting style of its Tapes trilogy, unravels as introspection under the influence of existential dread under a gothic, moonlit sky. Less an album and more a ritual, Heaving invites listeners to a place where each element is a thread in the rhizome of what it means to seek, feel, and perhaps find. In doing so, Heaving dares to carve out a multiverse that is distinctly Kruger’s — one of gothic noir pop infused with haunting rock & roll. It is a sound that will be on full display on April 3rd as Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys hit the Europavox Festival stage at Control Club.

Kruger, a South African transplant to Berlin’s culturally metropolitan but often isolating landscape, uses Heaving to dissect themes of belonging, identity, and sometimes a Sisyphean search for meaning in an increasingly disenchanted world. Drawing inspiration from Anne Carson’s reflection on the autobiographical nature of sound, Kruger has spun a web of tracks that function as sonic memoirs, deeply personal and startlingly universal, which can draw a stylistic comparison to the trip-hop grandeur of Portishead and PJ Harvey.

The album unfurls with Auditorium, a track vibrating with a Depeche Mode-esque gloom, wherein Kruger’s vocal range masterfully encapsulates the paradox of isolation within a crowd — a recurring motif of the album. As we delve deeper, its eponymous track reveals its more experimental heart. “I want to be hot and helpless,” sings Kruger against sparse percussion and electronic clatter.

Howl is then a masterpiece of gothic moodiness, where Kruger’s vocals, laden with emotional gravitas, cry out against the backdrop of modern life’s absurdities, like the relentless pursuit of a nebulous ‘better’ self (“You’re beautiful / I want to be useful / I want to scream”). The song, and by extension, the album, posits that true liberation comes from rejecting these external expectations, embracing imperfection and the multifaceted nature of human existence.

Burning Building and Feedback Hounds further showcase Kruger’s foray into the new, expanded territories of this album; the former, a gothic-pop anthem with a rousing chant that belies its critical take on celebrity culture and superficiality, and the latter, a confessional hymn that lays bare the contradictions and desires that define us. Kruger admits to being “a cheat,” “a child,” and “a charlatan,” seeking fulfillment in an endless cycle of desire-filled disillusionment. This thematic duality persists through the slow burn of Front Row and Tender, where desire and introspection converge to create hauntingly cinematic experience.

Stereoscope contrasts its methodical, hypnotic rhythms with Kruger’s smoky vocals, vividly depicting societal suffocation. Perhaps more than any other, this track embodies Kruger’s quest “to touch the in-between”—those fragile, tender, and infinitely complex liminal spaces of human experience.

The album’s denouement, Undress, is a haunting ballad that encapsulates the essence of the Tapes series while propelling the listener into the unknown. It is a song of endings and beginnings, fears and hopes laid bare, encapsulating the myriad emotions coursing through the entirety of ‘Heaving’.

With Heaving, Lucy Kruger and The Lost Boys have crafted immersive artwork that resonates with humanity’s deepest yearnings and fears—a dynamic, unflinching examination of the self in a meaningless world. This album invites us to heave—to breathe, to feel, to live—with an intensity that is both exhilarating and terrifying, deftly balancing controlled chaos with moments of serene beauty. It is a beacon for those adrift in the modern malaise and a reminder that we are not alone in despair.

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