Monday, 18 September 2017

Album Review: Come Undone by Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders (by Emma Prew)

This time last year I was constantly listening to my favourite bands that were set to play Fest 15 in anticipation for seeing many new faves live in Florida at the end of October. One artist that I listened to, probably more than anyone else, was Lincoln Le Fevre, a country/folk punk chap from Australia. When Fest came around we ended up seeing him play twice over the weekend and each time was simply wonderful – he has an incredible way of captivating a bar (or beer garden, in the second instance) with his wistful storytelling. I loved Lincoln Le Fevre then, I still love Lincoln Le Fevre now and now I also love Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders and their 2017 full-band full-length release Come Undone.

Released on Poison City Records towards the end of July, Come Undone has been top of my must-review-list ever since. Except life got in the way, work has been busier than ever and I haven’t had time to give the album the appreciation it deserves. Until now.

Opening the album is a song called Ugly Enough. It starts out reasonably slowly, with soft guitar before Lincoln’s distinct vocal utters the words ‘I should warn you, I’m not built to last, And the future casts a shadow, Darker than the past.’ You can tell that the song is building as the guitars appear to get ever so slightly more urgent. Drums kick in for the full band sound we’ve been waiting for at around the one and half minute mark and we are even treated to a big guitar solo towards the end of the song. This is the same heartfelt and honest Lincoln Le Fevre that I know and love just with a punchy impact and sound. The feedback at the end of Ugly Enough leads us into Undone and while the first track was slower to get going, track number two wastes no time hanging around. Undone has a fuller sound from the outset and a faster pace to get your head nodding and foot stomping. This was one of the first tracks released ahead of the album and I was sold on it from my first listen. As much as I love the stripped back and more acoustic nature of the last album, Resonation – and I sure as hell love that album – I think this rockier, punkier sound is what I subconsciously wanted all along. Undone is about being able to put the past behind you and get over someone or something. ‘Boy I know what’s getting you down, But there’s no point missing her now…’ I bet it would go down and storm at a live show and I really, really hope that’s something I get to witness one day.

There are plenty of genres that Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders could plausibly fall under. Of course, this is a ‘punk rock’ blog and they are not necessarily out of place here, as a major part in the Australian punk scene alongside the likes of The Smith Street Band, Camp Cope and Luca Brasi, to name but a few. You could also label Lincoln’s previous releases as having more of a folk or country sound and this comes across in the warm guitar tones throughout Summerhat. Perhaps this is Australiana? (Y’know, like Americana.) That’s the guitars however, meanwhile the lyrics are as packed with emotion as ever. You know that phrase ‘to wear your heart on your sleeve’? Well, that could be applied here too. ‘And when she turned to me and she respectfully disagreed, But in every kid there’s an asshole who don’t know right, Because what all this means is maybe she won’t think the worst of me.’ The tempo is taken down a notch for the somewhat melancholic The Get Go. A steady drum beat takes us through this song with the guitars taking a bit of a backseat for Lincoln to give an honest outpouring through his vocals. ‘Was it recklessness or reason, An echo of whatever but it means, That you were here from the get go.’ The sombre tone continues into the next track and this is where Lincoln really pulls at the heartstrings. Newcastle is the name of the fifth track on Come Undone and it is about loneliness and the frustration that comes with that, as well as how a particular place, Newcastle for instance, can embody all of those feelings. This song contains some of the most poignant and yet heartbreaking lyrics of the whole album – the whole Lincoln Le Fevre back catalogue in fact. ‘I’m staring at the infomercials, Waiting to be told, To go to bed and give up on another night alone, And lie awake in wait for sleep to bring her home, And I’m listening […] And when I told you that I missed you, You just stared at the floor, And you held me like there’s nothing left to hold anymore, And it looks as though when I get back to Melbourne I’ll be coming back alone.’ I want to scream those words almost as much as they make me feel like crying. That’s a good thing, right?

Phew! After that slightly emotional whirlwind, Useless Shit brings us back to straight-up head nodding folk punk rock. The drum beat gives the song a rolling motion, the guitars are suitably jangly and the lyrics are easy to pick up and sing along to – particularly those echoed lines in the chorus. This song has an official music video which features a bunch of people have a yard sale of what turns out to Lincoln’s, probably not so unwanted, belongings. It’s a fun spin on what could be presumed to be ‘useless shit’ but I think the song is more about starting afresh and perhaps trying to forget some things from your past. Another great song. Then we come to what I think is the perfect combination of heartfelt, emotion-fuelled lyrics with an upbeat pace and that excellent full band sound. Constellations is almost definitely my favourite song of Come Undone. Leading us into the song with a catchy guitar riff, the verses are mid tempo but the chorus is where it all happens. ‘And you caught me just in time, To turn the night around, And if the cop don’t shut us down, We’ll drink all night.’ There’s just something about the warmth in Lincoln’s voice that makes me love this song that little bit more than all of the rest. I think you’ll have to listen for yourself and see if you hear what I mean.

Drawing towards the end of the album, Gaslight City is the eighth track of Come Undone. A simple melancholic guitar riff opens up the track and when the vocals kick in we can confirm that this is a bit of a remorseful and bitter sounding song. ‘And you told us we need it, Everything we never needed.’ This is another song with a great sense of building throughout its duration. We don’t exactly get a massive punk rock kick in the face by the end of it but that’s not really what this song is about – it’s deeper than that. The melancholy gives way to a faster paced and almost optimistic penultimate track, Alone At The Back. I say ‘almost’ as it’s more like being on the road to positivity but not quite being there yet – ‘Giving up and giving in is not the same thing.’ There’s a great little section towards the end of the song where there are two different vocal lines being sung over the top of each other. Unfortunately I can’t quite pick out every single word to quote this (and I can’t find the lyrics online) so you’ll just have to listen yourself. Bringing Come Undone to a close in the longest song on the album at 5 minutes (exactly) in length, Stay Close. As you might imagine an album closer of 5 minutes to be, this is an atmospheric builder of a song. The slow guitar playing and softer vocals that start the song remind me a bit of Ryan Adams, if Ryan Adams was from Australia – which I’m sure is not an unusual comparison to make. In this song, Lincoln admits trying to be optimistic in when life puts you in some difficult situations which I feel reflects on much of the album and not just this song. It’s a good way to be. ‘So stay close, Stay close, Because I am still a stupid optimist in spite of every doubt.’ 

Come Undone is out now on Poison City Records and you can download and stream it on Bandcamp here.

I also suggest you give Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders a like on Facebook here.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

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