LAKES – ‘Start Again’

By Sean Reid

Almost two years to the day from delivering their debut LP, ‘Constance’, Hertfordshire six-piece Lakes are returning with ‘Start Again’. Having firmly established a mix of mid-western emo, math rock, and alternative indie on their first outing, this second full-length sees them expand on their foundations.

Having started life out as a bedroom project, the addition of singer, glockenspiel/synth player Blue Jenkins and bassist Charlie Smith makes ‘Start Again’ Lakes’ first collaborative effort. The end result makes for a charming and digestible record.

From the outset, they quickly define a harmonious sound with Roberto Cappellina’s and Jenkins’ vocals gelling together well. The chorus to ‘No Excuses’ radiates with warmth as jangly guitars twiddle away.

There is a musical richness that threads these songs together. Guitarists Rob Vacher and Gareth Arthur inject subtle urgency on ‘Matches’, complementing just one of several poppy hooks scattered throughout. Likewise, ‘Mirrors’ breezes through cordially, highlighting Jenkins’ seamless inclusion. While on ‘Peace’, Jenkins takes the lead with melodic charm as airy guitars intertwine.

However, it is on ‘Talk!’ that Lakes’ pop sensibilities truly shine. The combination of strong vocals, a buoyant tempo courtesy of Smith and drummer Matt Shaw, and hazy summer guitars merely adds to Lakes’ appeal.

For all of their melodic grace, ‘Start Again’ is anchored by its thoughtful lyrical themes. Sure, topics such as toxic friendships (see ‘Animals’), broken relationships (‘Retrograde’), and mental health have been dealt with before, they still add an element of relatability to Lakes. Whereas the titular track blissfully shines with optimism. “Keep Moving, keep going” Cappellina and Jenkins encourage. And as expected, ‘Get Better’ shares the same sentiment.

Although Lakes don’t break the mould musically, the sextet’s blend of bristling mid-west emo guitars, twisting math-rock riffs, and a steady and grounded rhythm section is executed with purpose while the vocal and lyrical pairing of Cappellina and Jenkins provide a comforting sense of earnestness. The aforementioned pop melodies simply highlight Lakes’ growing versatility.

With a solid line-up in place and an outward lyrical approach, Lakes continue to be a promising prospect. ‘Start Again’ highlights their growth, allowing them to stand out from the wealth of math-rock-infused indie/emo bands out there. With glimpses of originality throughout, Lakes show they’re able to lean less on their influences and are becoming confident in their own abilities.

SÊAN REID

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