More often than not, collaborative albums are a surprise one-off that emerge after two or more musicians briefly come together to hint at their co-operative brilliance – before they then scuttle off back to their day jobs.
When Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay formed LUMP, a psychedelic curveball of a side-project complete with a furry yeti mascot, the result was the sound of two artists pushing each other in strange new directions and thriving off the lack of a rulebook. While their self-titled 2018 debut album intrigued and impressed in equal fashion, it might have been expected, especially with Marling then going to work on her seventh solo album ‘Song For Our Daughter’, that the pair would shake hands and part ways for good, leaving LUMP as an esoteric career footnote.
‘LUMP’, however, left plenty of room for further expansion into wilder and even more bombastic styles, and Marling found time during her solo album sessions to reconvene with Lindsay to travel even further down their rabbit hole. The results, on LUMP’s second album ‘Animal’, are simply thrilling.
Across this playful new album, the sense of long-held burdens being shed is palpable. With Lindsay laying down the music in his home studio in Margate, Marling would then travel down to deliver her lyrics in intense bursts, pacing around the studio and garden waiting for inspiration to strike. Across ‘Animal’ she gets stranger, poppier and darker than she’s ever been, like she’s letting her hair down after a week of intense work on her solo album to get weird on the weekends with Lindsay.
Though the album veers wildly between musical styles – its title track is a blast of Radiohead-style dark pop, while ‘Red Snakes’ is a drone-like beauty and closer ‘Phantom Limb’ travels through a psychedelic wonderland in six-and-a-half minutes – it’s tied together by its exploratory nature and resistance to boundaries.
“It felt like getting the feeling back of making the first album you’ve ever made,” Lindsay told NME recently. As such, ‘Animal’ is the sound of Marling and Lindsay falling back in love with music again, and you can’t help but get swept up in that enthusiasm. “We cannot resist,” Marling repeats over and over on the song of the same name and the album’s thrilling highlight, and it could serve well as the album’s raison d’être. ‘Animal’ is a record fuelled by the most primal of instincts – and resistance is futile.
Release date: July 30
Record label: Chrysalis/Partisan