Larissa Reviews The Proper Ornaments’ “Six Lenins”

Larissa Reviews The Proper Ornaments’ “Six Lenins”

 

London’s The Proper Ornaments have been underrated all-stars of the city’s indie scene for the better part of a decade. Returning with their fourth full length LP “Six Lenins,” the group have expertly curated a warm, fuzzy feeling on the record that’ll weave its way into your heart and leave you feeling loved. RPM’s L.A.-based writer Larissa Pullen has the scoop:

 

Warm, sepia mahogany tones, like flashes of an autumn day spent in a backyard wood. Rusty yellow-brown hillscapes with a warm breeze. The slow feeling of reverence that settles in when gazing on an old renaissance painting of someone praying. I am convinced the color palette of the artwork for this album was drawn out of the sounds that The Proper Ornaments achieved in their fourth studio album, Six Lenins. Put this record on for an empty morning alone as the dew dries in the rising sun while you start your coffee, put it on through your headphones for a long walk through the city to slow the bustle of your surroundings, leave it on in the evening as the orange sunset leaks in through your bedroom windows and make strange shifting shapes on the walls. This album is a lucid dream where you achieve your simplest desires, one where you wake in cool sheets like vanilla ice cream, with a belly warm like you just ate some with fruit cobbler out of the oven.  This album holds you tenderly as you fall asleep, makes promises and keeps them, is loyal and unsurprising, but never boring.

 

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When I first saw The Proper Ornaments open up for Foxygen in 2017 at the Koko Theatre in London, I was held captive by the filling, rhythmic guitar work and the atmospheric, subtle harmonies that floated over the audience, blanketing us and sedating the energetic teenagers crowded towards the front. There was almost a sense of the vocals being an instrument, and the guitar, the main vehicle of the song.

The Proper Ornaments are the brain-child of London-based James Hoare (also of Ultimate Painting) and Max Claps, and joining them on this new record are Danny Nellis on bass and Bobby Syme on drums. The groups sound is often described as “neo-psychedelia”, “psychedelic folk-pop,” and less accurately, “jangle pop”, all descriptors which I think are vague and fit rather loosely. Psychedelia stripped down perhaps, a floating, dreamlike sound that gently refuses to be pinned down by ineffective linguistic markers. Hoare and Claps managed to conjure up this new group of tracks that pay homage to their traditional sonic aesthetic, yet feather it out warmer, brighter, and sleeker. Airy vocals with seamless harmonies melt slowly into the guitar produce a filling, calming effect, like being engulfed by a thick comforter that has been hanging on a laundry line in the summer sun the whole afternoon.

The Proper Ornaments. Photo by Anna Sampson, Tapete Records

 

Stand-out tracks are “Apologies,” “In the Garden”, and “Song for John Lennon,” a direct title which perhaps sets the listener up for a certain expectation, and delivers. The playful yet subdued layering of carousel-like synth in “Song for John Lennon” with Hoare’s overlay of vocals in the verses and lower delivery of the lyrics, “Messages you send to me/flowing freely/ in the breeze” in the chorus bring to mind the fluid nature of John Lennon’s lyrics in “Across the Universe”. Another one of my favorites is “Please Release Me”, which seem more reminiscent of a brighter and cleaner version of their sound in their last album, Foxhole. “In The Garden” is the heaviest song in the album, with vocals as thin as a cloud spanning itself across a dark sky, and a solid way to end the album.  

Six Lenins is mood music at it’s finest, a pleasurable and easy listen all the way through for those liminal spaces of life. So slowly rise up out of bed, start your coffee, put this record on and simmer in this sound for a while.

score: Taking in a foggy sunrise in a canoe on a still lake

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