Album Review: Globelamp – The Orange Glow

Published On June 23, 2016 | By Haydon Benfield | Albums, Music

If you are going to make indie-folk music that ventures towards alternative rock with a twist of the mystical and psychedelic, there are worse things in the world to be cursed with than the name Elizabeth Le Fey.  But the Olympia based Le Fey has opted for years now to go professionally by the name Globelamp – a name inspired by Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels book series – and it is a moniker that, if somewhat cute, still proves quite apt for the music that makes The Orange Glow­.

Globelamp - The Orange GlowSingle, Washington Moon, opens The Orange Glow with its pleasantly weird vibe, and curious lyrics about desiring a Californian sun and Washington – the US state, not the city – moon “in the same room/at the same time” which turns out to be a lament about belonging to two places but only being able to be in one at any given moment.  Le Fey layers her vocals, which often take on a conversational tone and pacing, so that she can utilise her full range all at once while also providing the song with an eerie, uncanny valley, atmosphere – an approach which defines her vocals throughout record.  Thanks to this layering it is almost possible to miss the deep, watery, vibrato she is capable of.

Moon Proof features an anxious musicality, courtesy of a tempo that slouches up and down, that all too easily could have been a product of artistic overreach but here never gets out of hand; never feels like anything but an expertly crafted aural journey.  The similes and metaphors of Artist Traveller are all but cliché, however Globelamp delivers them so they feel fresh and striking.  Saccharine vocals add a counterintuitive menace to Don’t Go Walking In The Woods Alone At Night, and the bare accompaniment by acoustic guitar is ideally chosen.

Breaking with the rest of the album, Piece Of The Pie, offers an intro of feedback before crunchy guitars set in, and Le Fey delivers a convincing piece of grunge.  Piece Of The Pie suddenly slows down before sluggishly starting to pick-up again – all masterfully handled – however the synth on the outro is both fitting and jarring.  San Francisco is a dark, detached, third-person chronicle of the end of Le Fey’s tenure as a live member of Foxygen and the collapse of her relationship with that group’s front-man, Sam France.  Le Fey deftly handles the painful, personal, subject matter by choosing to utilise the third-person voice, and this is a decision that is executed with a skill and maturity that eludes most artists.  San Francisco is the song that must definitely be listened to from The Orange Glow.

The album closes with the light, whimsical Faerie Queen, a track that is pleasing enough but exemplifies the main problem with the record, namely that many songs – especially through the albums middle – are too relaxed, convey too much of an easy listening vibe, resulting in the listener easily losing focus and drifting off.  The lyrical content is there to engage, but the music and the mix can fail to remind the listen to pay attention.  Despite this occasional blandness, the lows are never bad, and the highs a dizzying.

4 / 5 stars     

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