Album Reviews

Lorien – Under The Waves

(Instant Karma) UK release date: 15 April 2002

Lorien - Under The Waves First things first. Lorien are named after the forest in which dwell the elves in The Lord of the Rings. My original worry therefore had been that their debut album, ‘Under The Waves’, would turn out to be some ludicrous prog-opera chronicle of the exploits of wizards and hobbits.

Luckily though, this was not the case. The truth, although more mundane, was slightly more appetising. Lorien are this year’s Coldplay, albeit a very fey Coldplay. From the opening subtly distorted shimmering guitar on Ghostlost to the final, stripped-back acoustic strum of Holy Lights, it strikes you that Lorien couldn’t be feyer if they tried. The press has bandied around descriptions such as “delicate”, “exceedingly pretty” and “beguilingly beautiful”, but twee was the initial thought that came into my head.

Not that this is a bad thing per se. The songs here are undoubtedly beautiful, and to describe the music without reaching for over-used terms such as crystalline, fragile or pretty is nigh on impossible. Reminiscent of Radiohead‘s less abrasive back catalogue, Lorien do manage to invest their melancholic ramblings with a hint of stadium pomp, with songs like the single Cherrywood Eyes, which sounds perfect for both sulking in your bedroom and waving your lighter in the air. I soon banished my early, cynical thoughts and was won over to the band’s simple, “delicate” vision.

But it’s not the music that really grabs your attention. What does is the incredible voice of Italian-born singer, Fabio. It took at least a couple of listens to decide whether the voice belonged to a boy or a girl. Finally deciding he was a boy, I was left to wonder at this amazing androgynous performance, perfectly suited to the melancholic backing music, and able to invest tracks with names such as Milky Magic Tears with some sense of gravitas. When swaddled in the stirring strings and gorgeous melodies on tracks like Planet New Earth it’s definitely one of the most distinctive voices plying its trade in today’s pop market, like Cocteau Twins‘ Liz Frazer reincarnated in a man’s body.

With Coldplay still in the studio trying to come up with an album to follow the mega-selling Parachutes, Lorien and their record label must be surely hoping to steal some of their (quiet) thunder. It remains to be seen whether the paying public will fall for their charms, but you can only hope they will.

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Lorien – Under The Waves