In the summer of 2009 Andy Barlow and his longtime friend and musical partner, Lou Rhodes reformed Lamb, the band they started 15 years ago, to play a handful of festival dates. To say the reunion was a success would be a gross understatement.By January of 2010, Lamb had played 33 shows to hundreds of thousands of fans in 29 different countries. A reflective conversation followed, as Lou recalls, 'When Andy said the time feels right to make a new album, I was thinking exactly the same thing and I was rendered speechless. After such a big break and the fact that we'd both gone off and done solo records and tours, he was right: it was the right time.' Over the course of their four critically acclaimed studio albums, Lamb had grown from a modest duo from Manchester to a formidable touring force, with each subsequent album building on the sonic palette of the one that came before. By the time they'd released 2003's 'Between Darkness And Wonder',Lou and Andy were supervising complex orchestral arrangements and multiple cowrites with bassist Jon Thorne and guitarist Oddur Mar Runnarson. If they were going to return to the studio, they'd have to return to the essence of what Lamb was: two creative spirits, hungry, unfettered by commercial pressure and desperate to make new music. Lou and Andy have always had a spirited working relationship often playing the yin to the other's yang, but it's that juxtaposition of kinetic, beat-driven programming and transcendental melody that's provided the crux of their inimitable sound. These days, with more shared life experiences between them, their visions have coalesced. Time has stripped away pretense. Not only has the path ahead been more clearly illuminated, but the gift of hindsight has proven invaluable.Jon Thorne again lends his potent double bass to the mix, and Damien Rice turns in a stunning duet on 'Back To Beginning', but the nucleus of Five is unmistakably Lou & Andy. 'Another Language' begins with a chorus of sampled wine glasses, swelling gently with ethereal strings and staccato bass notes before Lou drops her poetry over skittering, shifty rhythms. Inspired by a character in Colum McCann's novel 'Let The Great World Spin', 'She Walks' is a haunting narrative that throbs with intrigue, while 'Strong The Root' pops and bubbles with a mix of organic beats and slaps of doumbek. 'Takes a tree to make a leaf. Strong the root underneath,' she coos. The lyric could easily stand as a commentary on Lou and Andy's creative reawakening. It was also the first track completed for the album. On 'Existential Itch' Lou exposes a coquettish, playful tone that recalls shades of Fear Of Fours 'B Line', but behind the sharp rimshots, hi-hats and funk synth lies a deeper theme that Lou revisits throughout the album: a restless hunger for something that feels slightly out of reach. 'Perhaps the dreamer has been hitting against the hard knocks of life and come to a place of wondering if she dare dream anymore,' says Lou. 'It all sounds a little dramatic I guess, but it's definitely there and very much a fuel for the writing process on this album.' The sentiment returns on 'Rounds', as Lou's vocals fall like layers of gold dust over a hypnotic, finger-plucked guitar melody. The story comes full circle on Five's closing song, 'The Spectacle'. Supported only by subtle atmospherics and a series of patient piano chords, Lou delivers a parable of self-discovery that speaks volumes about her own journey and she and Andy have embarked upon. 'There s something about the message of that song that resolves the whole album. The idea of struggling to find something that was already ours.Despite the existential grappling that was so much of the process for me, this album was definitely waiting to happen. I truly felt Lamb would come together again when there was something new to say.'
CD Andrew Barlow & Louise Rhodes, Ft. Damien Rice