To Drink and Sing on the Breadline
British Indie Outfit Lanterns On the Lake Bring Warm Vibes to Montreal
A creaky wooden hall in the middle of nowhere with the bitter cold creeping in through every crack sounds better suited for the setting of a horror movie than a place to make a record.
For British five-piece indie post-rock group Lanterns on the Lake, spending a month recording their second full-length album Until the Colours Run in such a hall in the snowy woods of Newcastle two years ago indeed made for a harrowing experience—but it was also a unifying one.
“We hired this big old school hall in the countryside—in the winter, which was freezing—and played the music as live together as we could and recorded it kind of like a live album,” said Hazel Wilde, the band’s leading vocalist.
“It feels like all the songs fit together and sound like they’re from the same time and place, whereas on the first record, the songs came together over a number of years.”
Wilde explained that for their first record, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, the band recorded all their own instruments separately and stitched together each song like Frankenstein’s indie monster.
“The first record that we made, it was done in quite a fragmented way. One or two of us would come up with song ideas and record it at home, and different people would record different parts, in our houses, really,” Wilde said.
“It was all done outside of work and day jobs and in the evening, trying to fit it all in. It took quite a long time.”
But the band was determined to remedy that for their second record—even if their congregation place was out in the boonies in the dead of winter and they had to make up for the loss of vocalist and guitarist Adam and bassist Brendan Sykes, brothers who left the band in 2012.
Joined by new bassist, Andrew Scrogham, the band’s unity on Until the Colours Run can easily be heard in the album’s atmospheric and graceful vibes, with the songs overflowing with warmth.
Opening tracks “Elodie” and “The Buffalo Days” launch nostalgic post-rock guitar licks over a foundation of violins and piano to guide listeners home, while slower tracks like “The Ghost That Sleeps In Me” and “Green & Gold” have a rustic, vintage veneer, with Wilde’s faint echoing vocals confessing haunting tales over folksy piano melodies.
The old-timey aesthetic of Until the Colours Run was no accident—the band engineered the sentimental sound through a medley of creative techniques.
“We try to sample a lot of natural sounds, Wilde said. “Some of the crackle you can hear is the fire that Sarah [the violinist] has in her house. We just recorded the sound of the fire crackling; it just kind of gives it that warmth we were after.
“We ran it through a tape player and stuff like that,” she continued. “We just wanted it to feel warm and close and quite natural.”
The group record all their music themselves—guitarist Paul Gregory takes the lead on production and the rest “chip in,” Wilde says.
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Although the sound is often sugary sweet, Until the Colours Run is not simply a flowery record about the beauty of the world. At its calloused core is a stabbing critique of the state of England.
“This album was recorded at a time that was quite difficult for us. We had no money, and we were struggling a bit in terms of wondering what was going to be happening to the band and the future, and how long we could last,” Wilde said.
“At the same time, where I live in the northeast of England there are a lot of problems with unemployment, and at the minute the politicians and the government in the U.K. are really not acting very morally in how they’re treating people in the country, especially in the north,” she continued. “A lot of that is fed into the lyrics.”
When asked why she was interested in incorporating sociopolitical commentary into her music, Wilde replied with a question of her own—how could she not?
“I’ve never sat down and said, ‘I’m gonna write a protest song,’” she said. “It’s just things that naturally feed into the music. It’s slightly a political record, but it’s not just that, it just reflects what’s going on at the time.
“It naturally sinks into it,” she continued. “I can’t really see how people can’t be influenced by what’s going on around them. I find that more strange.”
Until the Colours Run was released in October of last year in the U.K. and on Jan. 14 in North America. The band is currently on tour, heading to North America after stops in such European cities as Berlin, Zurich, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.
Lanterns on the Lake + Elliot Maginot // Feb. 3 // Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent Blvd.) // 9:30 p.m. // $12 + fees advance
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