Boy/girl vocals, horns, piano, twinkling acoustic guitar and album artwork and titles that evoke an irrational level of enthusiasm—indeed, Olympia sextet LAKE appears to be one glockenspiel away from twee-pop critical mass. And yet, in spite of these elements, the music the band creates contains more depth and richness than most of today’s Postcard Records devotees. On last year’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go, the group revealed a super fun indie pop sound that swirled just enough soul and funk into its giddy indie pop machine. Just a year later, LAKE appears to be expanding their sonic limits by incorporating more dense and textured arrangements along with superb songwriting on sophomore effort Let’s Build A Roof.
Given their K Records pedigree and penchant for rich and sumptuous ’70s-style atmosphere, it should only make sense that Let’s Build A Roof sounds like the meeting place between The Microphones and Fleetwood Mac. Thanks to plentiful reverb, and no doubt labelmate Karl Blau’s production, vocalist Eli Moore’s delivery frequently comes through as a dead ringer for Phil Elverum, if a bit warmer and less distant. But rather than drench their songs in fuzz, or as displayed recently, go black metal, LAKE opts for a brighter, kaleidoscopic array of organs, scratchy guitar chords, horns and gorgeous vocal harmonies.
“Breathing” begins the record with a softly throbbing pulse, a rhythmic heartbeat that provides a solid bed for an oncoming precipitation of ringing pianos and softly sung vocals. The stunning “Gravel” follows, building up from subtle African rhythms as Lindsay Schief’s sweet vocals become encircled by vibrant horns and clacking percussion. “Madagascar” is a laid back, almost reggae-influenced tune that finds the band taking on a lovely and breezy sound, while “Sing 99 & 90” takes a public domain folk tune and turns it into an exhilarating ’70s rock jam. “Loose Wind” displays the strongest Fleetwood Mac influence, and as such is a wonderful mixture of melancholy melodies and entrancing grooves. And “Don’t Give Up” is the album’s most giddy surprise, an upbeat and danceable standout with some motivational lyrics and good-time saxophone.
LAKE’s Let’s Build A Roof is an intriguing listen, both in its variety of sounds and the quality of the songwriting therein. In fact, one of its greatest qualities is how frequently it throws the listener a curveball. One minute it’s smooth-rock, the next it’s funky and powerful. But best of all, it’s a fantastic listen from beginning to end.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.