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Lenka - Lenka

Lenka, Lenka

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AUSTRALIAN singer Lenka has had a rich and varied career thus far. She studied with Cate Blanchett at drama school and then, as an actress, landed roles in films such as The Dish and Lost Things, before then becoming a popular children’s TV presenter.

She’s now turned to singing… and the results are pretty appealing. The Lenka sound is a hybrid of Regina Spektor, Lilly Allen and Kate Nash – that is to say, kooky, melodic and easy listening. If you like the background music on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Lenka easily fits into that sound category.

If there’s a criticism of the eponymous debut album, it’s that the singer doesn’t mix things up enough. Each song is an appealing blend of Lenka’s child-like vocals and shimmering, shiny melodies. It’s very poppy… albeit with the indie edge afforded by the Regina Spektor comparison.

But when she gets things right, she’s really very charming. Album highlight Trouble Is A Friend is a classic case in point… a scintillating blend of piano chords, snappy beats and alluring lyrics that you’ll want to keep revisiting. The chorus, in particular, is brilliantly delivered and highly addictive.

Album opener The Show, meanwhile, wastes no time in introducing the listener to Lenka’s innocent vocals. Ironically, the song takes a dour premise – that life is a show, and sometimes a pretty bad one – and delivers it with such aplomb that you can’t help but grin as it erupts into a bold, brassy closing refrain of “I want my money back!” It’s already featured on the soundtrack to Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging as well as Ugly Betty (proving the Grey‘s comment from earlier is not too far off the mark!).

Bring Me Down, meanwhile, begins amid a choir of Lenka’s before dropping a sassy back-beat and some typically feisty lyrics that again bemoan the hardships of life – albeit with a resolute determination not to let them bring her down. The Kate Nash comparisons are particularly relevant on this one.

The breezy sounding Skipalong is actually a more serene offering, almost jazzy in vocal delivery, with some great horns drawn in over the chorus, while Don’t Let Me Fall nicely combines vocal vulnerability with kooky, breezy instrumentation.

The album then slips into a comfortable familiarity with songs like Anything I’m Not and Knock Knock sounding pretty ordinary… and a little too poppy with not enough kooky.

But Dangerous and Sweet picks things up again with its vaguely retro vibe, and then Trouble Is A Friend re-ignites things. The pensive Like A Song then finds her broadening her sound still further… it’s a haunting, even beguiling listen that strips away the chirpy pianos in favour of synthetic strings and oboe, and a vocal that’s so delicate it might break.

The pace is picked up again for the final offering, We Will Not Grow Old, a hopeful ode to a lifelong romance that serves as a nice follow-up to the thoughtfulness of Like A Song, and a breezy way to close the album. You’ll want to hear more…

Download picks: Like A Song, We Will Not Grow Old, The Show, Trouble Is A Friend, Bring Me Down

Track listing:

  1. The Show
  2. Bring Me Down
  3. Skipalong
  4. Don’t Let Me Fall
  5. Anything I’m Not
  6. Knock Knock
  7. Dangerous and Sweet
  8. Trouble Is a Friend
  9. Live Like You’re Dying
  10. Like a Song
  11. We Will Not Grow Old