Lake Serene

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Some groups sound so damn polite, like they would take you in if you showed up on their doorstep shivering in the freezing rain and give you some dry clothes, a seat by the fire and a warm drink. Lake are one such group. Some of their songs sound downright churchly. The Free Design always gave me the same impression, dealing in lush, bucolic pop paintings that could only offend if you find politeness offensive.

On their new album Forever or Never they leave the Olympia, K Records stable for the pastures of Hamburg, Germany’s Tapete records. The band are still based around the Puget Sound, now calling Whidbey Island their home. Label change aside, the band continue down their garden path into summer’s cauldron with everything in full bloom. Songs like Christian Comedians with its lush string parts takes some cues from Seeds of Love era Tears for Fears and XTC‘s Skylarking. You can almost see the pollen floating in the air. Other tracks hint at light 70’s funk akin to Hall and Oats, while many are fine with just being their unique brand of childlike wonder juxtaposed with smooth rock vibes.

Lake sound like real pros dealing in stealthy psychedelia. Everything is proper, fully enunciated and always polite. Come in out of the rain and warm up to Forever or Never.

Stream / Buy Lake – Forever or Never.

Lake In My Back Yard

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Sometimes an album cover will make you take notice of a band that you may have previously ignored. I’m not sure why I’ve never listened to a Lake album, but I had not until the cover of The World Is Real caught my eye. There is something aesthetically pleasing to the cover, like a vintage postcard or a faded photograph found in a shoebox in your grandparents’ closet that made me want to take this record home and give it a try.

A leap of faith? Maybe, but now I’m a Lake believer. The World Is Real is full of sophisticated sounding pop that fans of Sea and Cake, No Kids and Jim Ruiz are well acquainted with. Leading off the album is Do You Recall with its slight Sea and Cake vibe mixed with Seeds of Love era Tears for Fears. It’s full technicolor with a kaleidoscope of sounds anchored by bounding  bass. The next song Parallel Lines features trippy guitars and vocals from Ashley Eriksson that are part Trish Keenan and part Free Design. Next up is Combat Culture with bouncy Beach Boys rhythm, ba-ba’s, and horns. Surely the songs will knock off in quality at some point, right? Wrong. This record keeps you on your toes to the end and is a joy to listen to, especially at really loud volumes so all of the sounds jab, dive and loop in front of your very eyes. Amazing that this Olympia band has been right under my nose all of the years. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Stream: Lake – Bury the House (from the World is Real out now on K Records)

You can stream The World is Real in its entirety at Lake’s bandcamp page. Catch them live on the east coast:

Fri 10/4   PURCHASE, NY SUNY Purchase
Sat 10/5   BROOKLYN, NY Shea Stadium
Sun 10/6   PHILADELPHIA, PA   WKM
Mon 10/7   BALTIMORE, MD The Metro Gallery
Tue 10/8   CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Tea Bazaar
Wed 10/9   DURHAM, NC Pinhook
Thu 10/10   KNOXVILLE, TN The Pilot Light
Fri 10/11   ATHENS, GA The World Famous
Sat 10/12   JACKSONVILLE, FL   Burro Bar