Fans of chanteuse Laura Marling and her insightful songwriting can revel in the other side she displays on her second LUMP effort Animal. Marling once again teams up with Tuning member Mike Lindsay to follow up to their 2018 eponymous debut. Animal is a certain departure from their day jobs, revealing a psychoanalytical influenced, half sweet, half gothic offering.
Marling has always had an interest in the field of Psychoanalysis, and for Animal, she utilizes many tropes and theories from the discipline. The album reveals her caroming around in her mind for topics and lyrics that don’t fit her recognizable approach in her solo works. Mike Lindsay, her co-pilot on the effort, provides accessible electronic palettes that often cross into Psychedelic, Trance and 80’s Pop sonics. Together they produce an engaging look at the world from a different perspective.
Animal begins with “Bloom at Night”, and heady techno goodness welcomes the listener to Marling and Lindsay’s alternative universe. The lyrics examine all the unnecessary work humans do to preserve the façade and the cost of all that effort to the soul. “Gamma Ray” takes a walk through history, coming up with the conclusion that everything old is new again and the same insanity exists in our society that has always been, our time is as mad as any, all playing out over a throbbing hypnotic sonic.
The title track “Animal” funks things up with dollops of pop and 21st-century techno in the mix. Marling examines the constant “push me, pull me” of nature versus technology. “Climb Every Wall” is a bit of a send-up to the “Sound of Music” song “Climb Every Mountain”. This wry examination of positivity not fixing everything is one of the best tracks on the release. Marling ponders whether it is a good idea for ideology to be woven into cinema on this track. “Red Snakes” is breathtaking in the amalgam Marling creates of stream of consciousness thoroughly married to Jungian imagery and the symbolism of the snake throughout history. Where “Red Snakes” examines Carl G. Jung, “Paradise” is inspired by French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan was heavily influenced by symbolism and the use of symbols found in patient’s free association. Marling is left wondering when a tunnel is simply a tunnel and when it actually means something significant.
In “Hair on the Pillow”, we get a psychedelic breather from all the heavy psychoanalysis, with Lindsay showing off his skills. That breather rolls right into “We Cannot Resist”, a cleverly pulled around pop track dealing with hedonism and our inability to strive for honour over pleasure. The second last track, “Oberon”, was initially written for Marling’s solo efforts but didn’t fit. Here this elegiac track shimmers with Lindsay’s brilliant musical touch. “Phantom Limb” brings the release to an end, and as Marling has described, it was an exercise in seeing how many random funny sentences she could fit into one song. Sonically it is the most connected to Marling and Lindsay’s day jobs and is a fitting reflection of all the psychoanalytical themes displayed throughout the effort. It is an apt closer that uses free association and stream of consciousness to finish the album reflecting the overall theme.
Animal is not your typical outing for Laura Marling but definitely reveals another side of this inspired artist. Kudos to Mike Lindsay for his brilliant accompaniments which brought back cherished memories of Portishead’s sonics on “Dummy”. Overall the album is an earnest investigation of Psychoanalysis with lyrics and vignettes that land a punch. A necessary addition to Laura Marling’s fans collection and an engaging listen for non-fans.
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