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The Books - The Lemon of Pink

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Artist: The Books

Album: The Lemon of Pink

Label: Tomlab

Review date: Nov. 4, 2003

The Books’ Thought for Food exploded from virtually nowhere, applying fresh sounds and techniques with as much vigor as clichés and old hats, and in the process left quite an impression on a small but enthusiastic set. This album posited a mixture of strings, deft editing, wry samples, and beguiling melodies that gained an immediate intimacy by sounding like a ton of records you’d heard before, but pulled you back again and again because you really hadn’t. The Lemon of Pink follows barely more than a year after their debut established the duo as tune-smiths worth watching. And true enough, any notions here of this being a mere retread or even some artistic backsliding get dismissed immediately. The new album only serves to enhance what many people found out upon spinning their first disc for Tomlab – more than just having a keen production knack, the Books are formidable musicians and craftsmen in their own eclectic right.

The means and methods here haven’t really changed much at all in the past year. The songs contained herein are still assembled from the same mix of crafty vocal samples and taut string work. And yet the differences between this work and the previous, while slight, are still noticeable enough to make this album superior in many ways. The title track starts things off on a more low-key note, working gracefully through strings, samples, and patches of delicate vocal melody. “S Is for Evrysing” is distinctly darker, underpinned by mournful strings that weave throughout each other while exuding a casual elegance. “Don’t Even Sing About It” veers from dark folk to bright patches of optimism almost effortlessly. “A True Story of a True Love” is another more pensive piece, going through the folk motions before editing itself into a twitchy rhythm.

Some of the best work on The Lemon of Pink draws from the same discombobulated well as Thought For Food. “Tokyo”, for instance, works with frenetic fingerpicking, this time matched nicely against a cello swell that courses throughout the background of the track, evidencing a neat subtlety that sometimes went lacking on their debut. “There Is No There” is similarly great, emphasizing the seams between the edits almost as much as the melodies the strings create, seizing a sampled line on Ghandi as a talisman that obliquely comments on our modern world before piling on manic guitar and string passages. “Take Time” works with a nice emphasis on clanking percussion, using that as the basis for the repetitive vocalizations of the title and intermingled guitar and violin melodies. While similar to older material, the arrangements here have gotten better, with odd samples that are further decontextualized than before to make all the elements fall strangely but neatly into place. The record ends on a high note, with the unbridled optimism displayed in the strum of “That Right Ain’t Shit”.

Perhaps the best thing about The Lemon of Pink is that it possesses a cohesion that its predecessor, even at its frequent best, still somehow lacked. Sure enough, repeated listens reveal Pink to work best in large doses, end to end, allowing the record to unfold its rich sound and subtle nuances. Thought for Food may contain a couple of better songs, but the Books’ latest effort earns high marks for its singularity, one that encourages the listener to explore each sound on every subsequent turn. If the Books continue the trajectory they’ve quickly (and seemingly effortlessly) established, it won’t be long before their music becomes such for the ages.

By Michael Crumsho

Other Reviews of The Books

Thought for Food

Lost and Safe

The Way Out

Read More

View all articles by Michael Crumsho

Find out more about Tomlab

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