Lambchop
The Bible



Release Date: 09/30/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Bible; non-paperback edition.

It's unsurprising 'The Bible' continues the logical progression established since 2016's 'FLOTUS' but what's interesting about this third album since then is how it alters the perception of this entire latter career stage; this is a weighty tome after the somewhat slight 'Showtunes' and as such practically begs fans to reassess not only each of these recent albums in terms of how they rank against each another, but also how this run rates when compared to the band's earlier material. There's certainly a solid argument that these last four albums have potentially provided two 'top eight' worthy entries in the Lambchop fifteen strong canon and 'FLOTUS' in particular is looking far less the oddity or curveball now that 'The Bible' has landed; it can finally be regarded as 'just another link in the chain', it's contents valued more by their merit and less by 'the curiosity factor'.

What also grounds this particular album within the Lambchop discography is that it has a lot in common with the last album that sounded like it could potentially end up a full stop on the band's career, 2012's 'Mr. M'; it seems telling that 'The Bible' is released on that album's tenth anniversary, a similarly sombre affair that shares an obsession with the passage of time, and ultimately, death. It only takes the simple exercise of comparing the opening 90 seconds of both albums and the similarity is uncanny, that same feel of a slow montage of nostalgic images playing at the end of some old weepy. While 'Mr. M's opener 'If Not I'll Just Die' wallowed in the mood established for its duration, this album's 'His Song is Sung' does shake things up before its conclusion; if the music doesn't quite 'burst into life' at the 3:10 mark it does at least wave at the audience and claim 'we're not dead yet' as glitchy electronic beats and horns lift the song's spirit (if not Wagner's delivery that remains steady, though now cast with more of a feel of defiance). Overall this track proves the band's mastery of their current sound and is easily one of the best pieces they've recorded since 2015.

The quality and atmosphere remain largely consistent throughout, though pleasingly 'The Bible' boasts at least the same amount of diversity in styles as 'FLOTUS', as well as some stylistic additions we've not encountered much before. There's a prominent funk influence at times, as well as soulful, near-gospel vocals that allow for actual choruses. The most successful pairing of these ingredients is on 'Whatever, Mortal' that opens with a very European flavour, almost like the Gotan Project, before those soul vocals are ushered in claiming 'mercy, I don't understand, it's not the way we planned'. The atmosphere is still reflective here, but not in a suffocatingly downcast fashion. More new territory is explored on the near-ambient 'Dylan at the Mousetrap' that combines elegant piano with dreamy waves of pedal steel guitar and a gentle chorus of voices; whether you feel this style is taking pointers from recent ambient country acts like Suss or that Lambchop effectively invented this style years ago is open for debate.

A number of songs here strip everything down to a few basic ingredients, usually piano, that manipulated vocal and some sampling, and again the results are never less than impressive. This is no mean feat, you only have to go back to last year's solo effort by Alexis Taylor (of Hot Chip) to see what can go wrong with minimal piano ballads flecked with subtle electronics and sung by an unconventional vocalist. Well, subtlety might as well be Kurt Wagner's middle name and on the mesmeric 'Daisy' he flexes like a champ, operating in his element. 'So There' is almost as unadorned (ok, there's some synth but the vocals are mostly 'clean' this time) but has more of a skip in its step and proves a late album highlight, a sweet shuffle before the sadness returns with the addition of rainy day windscreen wipers as the track concludes. All that's left from here is for the mood to be extended as the curtain drops; 'That's Music' is another cinematic track that brings everything full circle, recalling 'His Song is Sung' ("His song is sung? Hey, that's music" etc) .

When a band release something this well crafted it's hard to wish it to be their finale, but similarly to 'Mr. M' this not only feels like it would serve well as a farewell, it in fact feels like it would BEST serve as a farewell. Certainly it's a relief that Lambchop didn't sign off with 'Showtunes' as that would have undoubtedly left a feeling we'd been abandoned to ponder a less than definitive parting statement; that's not the case with 'The Bible', indeed this leaves the listener with the feeling the band may have effectively said everything they ever could at this point, that this album is the last 'book' of their own bible. Lambchop are nothing if not perverse so whether this does prove to be the end is of course a total mystery at this point - all we know is if it does, they did good.



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user ratings (17)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Alright then

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It was a good one - there've been a few good months this year.



2022 the year anyone with a pulse released an album

theBoneyKing
October 4th 2022


24046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Huzzah, a full-length Doof review on Sput in 2022! And for a Lambchop album no less.



Great coverage here. I’m loving this so far though haven’t quite focused on it as I would like to have given the other releases from last week. I generally agree with your thoughts here though, I just expect this won’t totally hit me for another handful of spins.

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You'll get there Boney, I had to just up my listening and powered through three more spins of it - after that I had pretty much a total hold of it.



Honestly not a bad song here, the lowest rated on RYM ('Dylan at the Mousetrap') is a bit of a beauty tbh

ashcrash9
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2022


3329 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this was my first Lambchop listen and I bit off more than I could chew throwing it on while multi-tasking. excited to give it some proper attention later, got a hunch it'll grow on me

Lucman
October 4th 2022


5537 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Love your final paragraph, Doof, and of course this lovely review as a whole. Lambchop has one of the most stunningly complete discographies of any band and I agree that this would be a perfect sendoff.

But then even when I think they've exasperated their ideas songs like "Little Black Box" and "Police Dog Blues" come around and make me feel like a right fool.

Gyromania
October 4th 2022


36775 Comments


Good review Doof! I'll check this one

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks everyone, probably a pretty strange album if you haven't been on board since 'FLOTUS' but if you have then this is up there with that one

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lucman - yeah it feels wrong almost wishing one of your favourite bands stops on a high/on a suitable note, but this album definitely made me feel that

theBoneyKing
October 4th 2022


24046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice reference in the summary btw ;-P

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Boney - obvious reference yeah, had to be done



TheTripP - hope you find something you like here

zakalwe
October 4th 2022


38185 Comments


This band has rattled ‘em out recently.
Nothing has stuck.

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Zak - I think similar to Tindersticks there's been good ones recently and others less than essential but still familiar and enjoyable and all that

theBoneyKing
October 4th 2022


24046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The only one I haven’t loved recently was Trip but that was a cover set so doesn’t really count against them, especially since they’re dropping stuff every year.

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'FLOTUS' and this are a step above - 'Showtunes' just because like you said it feels more like an EP, and 'This is What I wanted to Tell You' isn't quite as consistent. I like them all though.





theBoneyKing
October 4th 2022


24046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I agree FLOTUS and this are better, but alas Showtunes and This (note the capital T) are only relatively “weaker” albums by the ‘Chop’s incredibly high standards, each still among my favorites of their respective years.

DoofDoof
October 4th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yup, only that cursed double album (plus the covers thingy) wouldn’t make a top 10 for its respective year, all their other stuff consistently gets in there - top 5 most of the time tbh

theBoneyKing
October 4th 2022


24046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hm, I’ve never quite clicked with that rough-around-the-edges debut the way you have, but exclude that and extend it to a more generous top 20 (that said, probably 7-8 would make top 10s for me) and I agree with that!

bigguytoo9
October 5th 2022


1377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pretty good record indeed.

DoofDoof
October 5th 2022


13909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Boney - if the debut was just 10 songs I’m sure you’d 4.5 it. Breathe Deep, Soaky, Bowling, Drive Slowly, Under the Same Moon…full of great songs.



The opener has also become one of my favourite Lambchop openers in terms of just setting the mood.



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