No Mood is the debut album of Tommy Bazarian’s Lampland project, and introduces the Brooklyn outfit’s diverse and narrative-driven songwriting. “I spent a long time on the lyrics, and ended up with this patchwork quilt kind of storytelling,” Bazarian tells The Fountain. “That found its way into the music too. The songs are a collage of a lot of different instruments and styles—even some found sounds and field recordings. Above all, I wanted to make a big, diverse, colorful album.”
The intention shows, with the ten songs on No Mood feeling like an extended family, united by common themes but each unique in its own way. One recurring motif is weather-based imagery, Bazarian referring to a whole range of meteorological phenomenon to allude to atmospheric changes altogether more human. This is apparent immediately, as the quietly turbulent opener ‘Flood Lights’ begins with the image of a burst pipe, and moves on to moonlit water and cyclical tidal flows. But the real drama involves the characters, an unhappy story told through snatches and glimpses, captured in lines such as “Oh you’re climbing the stairs, and I probably should start crying when I see you.”
As we described in a preview, ‘Don’t Drive’ is another track that uses the weather to great effect, a song about “[the] approach of a winter storm, snow and ice immobilising the city and trapping the principle characters within their apartment.” Again, the situation is utilised to further the human dimension. “The moment opens up a space within normal time,” we continued, “a relaxing of life that allows a certain magic inside, made all the more precious by the certainty that it will be over as quickly as it began.”
The insular and crystalline atmosphere on ‘Night Driveway Practice’ belies the quietly seething lyrics, Bazarian’s whispered vocals delivering lines like “Everyone I know is batshit and I’m on a downward swing,” while ‘Feeling Like A Man’ is subtly theatrical, Bazarian’s voice snaking around the constant subtle percussion in a menacing slink. The lush mid-tempo Americana of ‘Did You Ever Want To Know Why?’ follows, full of peaks and troughs, Bazarian’s voice rising from a hush to a near-yell as the song progresses. Again weather forms the central metaphor, particularly in the refrain at the end of each verse.
“We gotta stay warm and dry somehow”
‘You Little Liar’ ends on the gentler, acoustic end of the Lampland spectrum, an Elliott Smith-meets-Sufjan-style heart-on-sleeve folk song. Bazarian’s lyrics tumble with an easy flowing melody, a couple telling each other lies about black holes and dying palm trees. It’s perhaps the standout track on the album, a deceptively simple close to the preceding diversity, a spring shower following a stretch of snowstorms and hail.
No Mood is out now and available on 12″ LP and download from the Lampland Bandcamp page.