CD of the Month: Lung - "Come Clean Right Now"
If the last 18 months or so have taught us anything (and that particular anything time and time again), it’s this: plans change. The Cincinnati duo Lung have been making a name for themselves since 2016 as noted road dogs, perfecting their small but mighty blend of electric cello and drums with relentless touring across the country and overseas. The spring of 2020 brought this band with seemingly endless momentum to a screeching halt. And so the question arises: with this much energy still in hand, what to do with it? Shelving an album recorded back in 2019, the band wrote new songs in the first few months of the pandemic, and the result, Come Clean Right Now, is the sound of two people making their art out of necessity, and this mother of invention has borne the band’s strongest work yet.
The work mode Lung had fallen into in the past couple years was to write and record on the road and in between tour chunks. When the pandemic set in, vocalist/cellist Kate Wakefield and drummer Daisy Caplan not only found themselves off the road, but also physically isolated from each other. They took to sending each other tracks over email, back and forth until the songs coalesced. This extra time to work has proven to be a goldmine for making their tightest and most urgent material yet, with most of the songs under the three-minute mark. That “get in and get out” approach proves effective as the band blazes through the album's twelve tracks and thirty-two minutes. In contrast to the runtime, Come Clean features the band’s most detailed work yet, expertly documented by frequent collaborator and fellow Cincinnatian John Hoffman, and Mike Montgomery of R. Ring. Wakefield’s cello soars in the high registers and delivers heavy, heavy lows, while Caplan’s drums crack and wash in perfect clarity. Right off the bat, the opening title track features hairpin meter changes, the rollercoaster of this album immediately starting at full speed. The song also sets the precedent for the extensive layered vocals across the album from Wakefield, whose vocal training pedigree really shines this time around. Her lyrics shift between evocative and cryptic depictions of personal relationships and a life in global crisis-fueled discomfort, and clearer, tender musings on being in love. My favorite of the latter is the album’s closer, “Arrow,” showcasing a softer side of the often-intense band with a song on the simple act of being with the one you love. That aforementioned intensity is certainly present on the album as well, one notable example being “Tick Tock,” where the duo slows down and brings the low end in, with an almost doom metal-like sound. Lung are masters at shapeshifting their limited resources for what the song calls for, whether that be sludgy crawls or quick, white-knuckled sprints.
Lung have been on a steady rise since their beginnings, thanks in big part to their dedication to getting their music out anywhere and everywhere they can. But simply performing all over doesn’t bring success unless you’ve got the talent to deliver, and this band’s got it in spades. A forced break in live performance can’t stop Lung’s star from rising, and may have ended up a blessing in disguise, as Come Clean Right Now is truly an indicator that no obstacle can get in the way of the band’s path to bigger things. When the opportunity arises to see them play this material live, I urge you to not miss it; this band is a force to be reckoned with, and can only get better from here.
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