Oh Lambchop. I don't even know where to begin.
I thought I'd be disappointed with so much Lambchop to get through. Two albums,
even if meant to be listened to as a whole, can be tedious. But I'm pleasantly
surprised. This Nashville-based collective has put together a suite of songs
that combine the best elements of such past releases as 2000's Nixon and
2002's Is a Woman. Subtle instrumentals mix seamlessly with Lambchop's
unique mix of intricate countrified R&B slow jams. If I had to pick one over
the other, No You C'mon would be my pick it has a little bit more
of an edge to it and takes the gentle nature of Aw C'mon just a little
bit further. But, that said, both of these are worthy of some dedicated time
in your stereo.
"Steve McQueen" is an early highlight on Aw C'mon. When lead singer Kurt Wagner croons, "Let's hope we always prevail to love, to take a pill or take a pause/ But this is not at all what it seems," the song slowly reveals itself to be filled with elaborate strings and musings on life and death. But with Steve McQueen as its subject how cool!
"Nothing but a Blur From a Bullet Train" is filled with colors and sights, such
as a lake stained a hazy pink and jade-green rivers. I'm taken with "Women Help
to Create the Kind of Men They Despise," in part because I'm fascinated with
how out of nowhere the line "rug that opened as a well of color at her feet" appears
in the middle of the song, as the slowest chant. It has nothing to do with the
rest of the song. I'm not sure any of the song has to do with the song. So very
random, but somehow it works. "I Haven't Heard a Word I've Said" has a slow and
simple tune, and manages to touch upon late nights out, naps, and our "amber
waves of sin." Plus it rhymes! Where else will you find "callous" paired with "malice"?
Nowhere, you say? That's what I thought!
No You C'mon is a more ambitious, and more successful album (or half an album, I guess). "There's Still Time," with its simple harmonies, gets a lot more interesting when I realize I'm listening to such lyrics as "Is there really any reason why we take this crap?" It's fabulously funky in all the right places. "The Problem," with its country strains, is a quietly entertaining song with lyrics that still manage to get a little crazy. Case in point: "…but if you don't care a lot/ If the world just hits the spot/ You'll be out again/ By Christmas time next year."
"Nothing Adventurous Please" is actually just that it's the one song on the album where Lambchop rock out a little and let loose from their R&B formula. This song's not for the purists, but it's great, a joyous example of how talented this musical collective really is. This hour and a half of music wraps up with "The Producer," a charming instrumental dedicated to the album's producer, since he's the one who ultimately saw the concept of this album through.
These two albums are the perfect complement to each other. While you could easily pick up one, leave the other at the store, and still have a great album in your sweaty little hands, having both is all the cooler. The two just make for a great mix of music. Lambchop manage to be really good at being genreless, which makes Aw C'mon and No, You C'mon all the stronger. It takes a versatile group of musicians to pull off songs that mix orchestral arrangements with funk and pop. If this is the result of Wagner writing a song per day (as is rumored), then I hope he keeps it up.