Noise-pop trio reunites after almost 20 years and is surprisingly still relevant.
Slumberland Records, 2012
6.8 / 10.0
In the ’80s, when pop music was mostly comprised of synthetically generated keyboard melodies, the guitar was struggling to find its place in pop culture. But then something amazing happened! Grunge. Brooding distortion and feedback became the counter-attack to finely tuned production and noise bands began to reign supreme. Lorelei, a guitar-bass-drums trio, started in 1991 and was one of the bands bridging the gap between goth-wave ’80s pop music and the noise-rock beginnings of the ’90s. After calling it quits in 1996, the band members took on their own music endeavors until this year, which sees the release of their first album together in almost 20 years.
Enterprising Sidewalks opens with “Hammer Meets Tong,” a mix of new-wave guitars and ’80s goth-style vocals that quickly crumble into a cacophony of grit and distortion. After picturing lead singer/guitarist Matt Dingee strumming those raucous chords at a break-neck pace you can’t help but think to yourself, ‘these guys are real; they were doing this from the beginning’. Other tracks like “Majority Stakes” are sort of lost in translation when over-processed reverb clashes harshly with the simple vocal melodies that would have fit better in a Devo song.
Enterprising Sidewalks shows maturity in its songwriting with some interesting chord structures and rhythmic conversations between the drums and guitars. Lorelei are very versatile musicians in that they can transition between different moods and styles within a single song, sometimes more seamlessly than others. “Wound Up” walks a thin line between a melancholic love song and a paranoid introspection as Dingee yells over wailing guitars.
After the trio disbanded in 1996, the members went on to explore their own musical ventures. Dingee became Textile Sounds, Stephen Gardner (bass) was known as Chessie, and David White (drums) performed as Glass Bottom Boats. Working within a new creative space has had a pretty clear effect on the core sound of Lorelei. The fundamentals are there — the synth-pop, the noise, the grit — but there is a real disconnect within Enterprising Sidewalks. Most of the songs have their strengths, but some are definitely more cohesive than others and few truly fit the Lorelei aesthetic that was apparent in the ’90s (see “Three Interlocking Screens”). Overall, the trio has proved they have a place in today’s music scene (especially with the reemergence of noise-pop bands), but like most reunions, the personal interests of each member seem to interfere with and confuse the overall sound of the album.
Purchase: Lorelei – Enterprising Sidewalks