Review Summary: Lemons, Freddy, Death and beauty.
Lemon Freddy Phantom of the Sky doesn’t just shower you with psychedelic drops infused by colour; it pelts hailstones down like there was no tomorrow (or yesterday). The Arcana (based in London and the US) produce great music, thought provoking lyrics and a stylish mood. They bring together, in their typical way, an array of enveloping emotions from dark sadness and deep depression to euphoria and abject horror – very definite, always present. The combination of feelings is nevertheless treated sympathetically and never over indulged. The album was apparently recorded between May and September 2017 in London, which equates to two weeks per song. It is difficult to believe that songs like “Lemon Freddy” or “When The Feeling's Gone” took as little as two weeks to produce. In fact, they must have been living in the studio with occasional gasps and breaks fro fresh air or... fresh something else. A song like “When The Feeling's Gone” (the second song on the album) changes mood and perception so many times that one wonders how they managed to get so much 'stuff' into one song – it helps that it's nearly five minutes long! What The Arcana
have that very few other bands have today is an ability to judge what they want and where they want to go with their music. For example, at the end of “When The Feeling's Gone” one can hear a church choir singing counterpoint against the main melody. This is unusual in most contemporary music genres, but listen to some Baroque music, where counterpoint was used heavily (and effectively) by Bach. The choir is then never used again on any other parts of the album. Again, this is typical of the whole album: a few seconds here of something one would normally wish to go on for considerably longer; but this is why the songs a re so good – they leave you wanting more.
Nevertheless, it’s very impressive how consistent in structure the songs on the album are; different, but consistent. Moreover, these songs are not merely songs, but songs within songs. Take a snapshot of a song like “We In The Moon Light”. Listen to a few seconds of it at the beginning, then in the middle and finally at the end – three different songs, right! You would be forgiven to think so. This is true, more or less, throughout the entire album; a little less so with songs like “Here I Am” and “Rain Down Drifter”, yet even these have a few seconds of a great melody sequence that one would wish a whole song could be written around. Lennodo even comments on a particular Rickenbacker guitar '...it can be heard for a sum total of 16 seconds, but it makes the song. This is the only time it can be heard...' What a waste of a Rickenbacker!
My main problem with this album is it's complexity. Sometimes I just want to click a track when I'm writing so that it rumbling along keeping occupied but never intruding or getting in the way of what I might be doing. You cannot do this with “Lemon Freddy Phantom Of The Sky”; don't listen to it unless you really want to LISTEN to it – it will put you off whatever you're doing, in spades. In fact it might be better to burn 15 second segments and put these on repeat – you'll thank me for it.
Now comes the comparisons: The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles … Careful! Don't get caught up in all the bull***. Borderline psychedelic (yes), baroque rock (by definition), but it's not ***ing Sgt Pepper! Obsessives will, of course, disagree, maybe The Arcana's fans will too; but if you're going to make a comparison, make the right one. There is a strong leaning towards the psychedelic, but you might as well add shoegaze, folk, electronic, heavy metal, goth, math, ambient and anything else that you might happen upon if 'you feel lucky'.
There seems to be a underlying theme to the album, not a musical theme but rather a lyrical theme. The 'zeitgeist' is now! “Lemon Freddy” appears up-beat, but the guy finishes up in a cemetery. “Golden arrow beamer, Murciélago screamer, terrifying sinner, cemetery winner”. On “I've Waited”, we hear: “The dew from the trees trickles all down the leaves (The tears of a once dying race)”. And on “Rain Down Drifter”, more tears, “Shapeless figures dancing in the glass, As the rain washes past, And the scene starts to wither,Standing gazing through me at the door, With your bags on the floor, Playing a part in a picture” But it can only get better, or can it" In “Yellow Plastic Tiling” is there an echo of hope: “I’m falling down on my mind again, No matter what I just cannot keep awake, Sleepwalking and I might find a friend, But I am waiting for a knock on the gate”. It does come eventually, however. It begins with “Here I Am”: And I like to know when it’s time to go, Will you wake me up with sounds that are fantastic" We could walk through snow reading Sherlock Holmes, And recall the times and days when there was magic” and continues with “Good To Be Home”: “Peering through a soul-searching candle, Footsteps on the way, Listening for a fate-turning handle, Now her traveller’s home again to stay” and ends with “Left behind the memory, Of the void gone by, Indie dust is rising, rising in the sky, Indigo dust . . .” A reference to contemporary culture, views and opinions" If so, it's too much – It's all too much!