Album Reviews

Orlando Weeks – Loja

(Fiction) UK release date: 7 June 2024

An intriguing postcard from his new life in Portugal, the former Maccabees singer’s latest demonstrates his adept reflection of seismic personal events

Orlando Weeks - Loja Ever since his former band The Maccabees split in 2017, Orlando Weeks‘ solo material has become adept at reflecting the seismic changes that life can bring. His 2020 record A Quickening was a moving exploration of new parenthood, while Hop Up continued that process, consisting of songs about his young family.

Loja is inspired by another huge change in Weeks’ life – a relocation from his home city of London to Lisbon in Portugal. The Iberian Peninsula seems to have broadened Weeks’ musical palette as well: while there’s no return to the jerky indie-rock of The Maccabees, and the pace is still very much quiet and deliberate, it feels like Weeks’ most fully formed solo album to date.

It also feels like a very calming record, as if the Mediterranean sunshine is pulsing through Weeks’ songs. There are more than a few moments where Talk Talk are brought to mind, and on opening track Longing, Weeks sounds a dead ringer for the late Mark Hollis. That’s followed by the beautiful Best Night, all about settling in a new country and exploring the culture – with its subtle drums and synth patterns, it could almost be an offcut from one of The Blue Nile‘s legendary ’80s albums.

Loja’s best moments come when Weeks cuts loose and ups the tempo a bit. His solo material has always been reflective and wistful, but Loja contains some of his most upbeat songs for quite a while. Dig is an urgent, almost angular, guitar rocker with Rhian Teasdale of Wet Leg on guest vocals – the song is almost framed as a conversation between Weeks and Teasdale, culminating in a line that could almost be delivered with an eyeroll: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” It’s Weeks’ best song to date, outside of The Maccabees.

Good To See You is another little gem, a big warm hug of a track which mixes little pulsing electro bleeps with a gorgeously uplifting repeated chorus of “real talk – it’s good to see you”, while My Love Is (Daylight Saving) is a slow-burning anthem, employing brittle guitar riffs and languid piano chords.

Loja also feels like a very emotional album. A track like You & The Packhorse Blues is a simple ode to his wife, thanking her for moving to Lisbon with him, and Weeks’ delivery of a chorus of “you, only you, where would I be without you?” is undeniably powerful. Please Hold appears to tackle the ups and downs that such a relocation can bring, with Weeks singing “the Spring is coming” to reassure that better times are on the way, while Tomorrow is impossibly powerful, building beautifully up and up until a choral cacophony ends the song. Like most of the tracks on Loja, it’s impeccably crafted and played.

It all makes for another intriguing postcard from the life of Orlando Weeks, and together with Hugo and Felix White’s band 86TVs, shows that the legacy of The Maccabees is in safe hands.

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More on Orlando Weeks
Orlando Weeks – Loja
Orlando Weeks – Hop Up
Orlando Weeks – A Quickening