Review Summary: Embracing change is great, but it doesn't always pan out.
The art of reviewing art can rely a fair bit on conventional phrases. For the silver screen, buzzwords center around relatability and level of social impact—throw in superhero fatigue to really cover the Jeopardy board—and for the realm of records, a reigning concept continues to be a simple line: ‘bands change’. It’s a simple enough observation, yet it is repeated continuously as if still misunderstood. Lentic Waters was last heard in the seemingly distant year of 2015, their presence announced immediately in the raw scream punctuating The Path
’s album opener “Absent.” Vocal chords were drowned in a distant cavern, dissonant strings immersing the listener in a dense coalescence of foreboding storm clouds, percussion conducting lightning upon charred ground. This brand of emo, coupled alongside influences from the hardcore and post-metal spheres, brought down a gauntlet of unbridled emotion and aggression wrapped together in a brief duration. Existence now endures in 2019, however, and civilization has since witnessed the Patriots win another Superbowl, another Marvel movie grossing millions, and some political conspiracy somewhere. So maybe things haven’t distorted to such an incredible degree, but the point is that time has passed and circumstances tend to evolve in response. A relatively undeveloped set from Germany cannot be characterized forever as their even younger selves; change is an expected conclusion from whatever music is crafted. Judging by the virtual absence of harsh demonstrations off of anticipated third disc Bird
, the times have definitely a-changed for Lentic Waters, and it’s hard to determine if this is better or worse than Duke once again surviving in March Madness.
Parallels immediately appear to connect the overall presentation here to another album noted for its dramatic tonal shift and similarly divisive quality. Pianos Become the Teeth surgically removed rough edges from their identity in the adored and simultaneously despised Wait For Love
, the positives and the negatives all concerning the same aspects: polished timbres over punitive severity, and atmosphere above overt raids. What emerges from the 14-track LP designed by Lentic Waters is identical in this regard; production quality is scrubbed clean of remaining mire from The Path, while rugged melodic passages find themselves reaching for plainer tones, sacrificing potential power for ambiance and delicacy. The concept here is not automatically to deconstruct the typical sonic output exhibited prior, instead venturing to enhance its subtler physiognomies to deliver a graceful experience to whoever lends an ear. Perhaps the only scream heard throughout the duration of the release comes from the listener’s personal frustration, because as enticing as that aforementioned description appearss, such is not the final result of Bird
. For all intents and purposes, any emo aspects have been expunged as if it were a disease—not a single trace can be found. The replacement occupies a spectrum so seemingly empty that one could swear it was designed as an antithesis to everything Lentic Waters once stood for. Incredible restraint drives the record to such an extent that nothing engaging is allowed to advance, with one unfortunate exception.
There’s no point in sugarcoating: the vocal performance delivered on Bird
borders on horrendous. Perhaps this was a recording studio mishap—the band mistook a wandering narcoleptic’s mumblings as artistic brilliance—and any quality that this album may possess is damaged as a direct consequence. Tonality is a coin flip here, where sometimes the right note is hit and sometimes it might be something quite different, and the general methodology holds an unbelievably amateurish value; phrases are poorly supported, their enunciation scratchy and close to faltering. To be honest furthermore, however, factoring out these aimless ramblings indeed reveals an instrumental section entirely deficient in intrigue. No riffs capture audience attention due to their basic structuring, causing songs to blend together as if never having been individual songs to begin with, and the rhythm section could have been programmed since it exhibits personality akin to a discounted MacBook. When Lentic Waters does manage to somehow capture a striking moment, it’s not based on merit—consider that random synth that enters “Fragile as Granite” like an uninvited party guest that won’t leave, the keys’ distinctive sound clashing against the atmosphere of the track. It therefore seems apparent that it takes nine tracks for Bird
to be recognized as an engaging piece of work and it’s only felt at its expense, whereas The Path
imprinted its shadowy charms on listeners instantly. If this was the desired change the band felt was necessary to summarize their evolution, then such is naturally their right and they should feel compelled to shift as they see fit. Of course, from the perspective of an outside appreciator looking in, what lies here is so vapid that new music may not have been released to begin with.