What does Lissom sound like?
The softest, sweetest emotional punch to the gut.
The review of Lissom – Eclipses
Lissom has a style that has lived rent-free in my head since the day I discovered their self-titled debut album. It’s a collaboration between pianist and composer Julien Marchel and singer-songwriter Ed Tullet. Both make exquisite music on their own but together as Lissom, they’ve found a very specific niche. Imagine modern classical music translated into soothing chamber pop ditties. It’s like Olafur Arnolds has started to sing on his own tracks, making them emotional lullabies in the process.
For their second album, Lissom have chosen more of the same and that’s totally ok. Their mixture of Ed’s softest male vocal wisps and Julien’s gentle piano and string work is sublime. Throughout the album, Lissom layer their vocals so it sounds like a full chord is being sung in stereo. It isn’t usually different notes being sung but the same melody being panned into both ears separately. The vocals sound twice as intimate as a result and even the softest of vocal deliveries can get up close and personal with the listener.
When it comes to the instrumentation the album is predominately piano and string only. This is chamber music through and through but the occasional distant brass addition adds extra emphasis to more expensive moments. This may sound like it has the potential to be dull but the arrangements are so endearing and rarely simple. The devil is in the detail and the earnest delivery of the piano, strings and vocals. That detail is then smeared with a greasy gauze on the production to evoke that European new classical emotion. Delicate piano notes bleed into each other. The creaks of seats and pedals are present but create a rustling patchwork of sound rather than statements. The same can be said for the strings too. They largely follow chord progressions but when they do bustle or bend their surges aren’t in volume or power, it’s in pure melody. Lissom ensures the melody comes first every time and that’s why each track lands so well.
Regarding specific tracks, it’s quite tricky to pick favourites as each one attacks your emotions. The album is melancholy without reprieve. It a definitely a mood-centric album and there is a risk of all 12 tracks bleeding into each other as stylistically, little changes. That said, the attentive listener, which Lissom obviously is catering to, will find a ton to discover. “Your Name” has a fantastic chorus hook. “Repertoire” has a beautiful payoff in one of the few multi-instrument crescendos. Often it’s a vocal upward flick, a sudden piano spiral or a strong string note that signals the big moment, whereas here they all hit together. “Big Sleep” is one of the dreamiest tracks I’ve heard in years and I could listen to its lilting chorus on repeat for an hour and not get bored. “Tides” has a beautiful galloping piano that evokes light dance synths. “Mauling” is a dramatic set piece with bold chamber strings that are as grand as an Aerosmith number. “Suns” and “Shade” feel like two moments of pause – funny given their names that they feel interconnected.
Put simply, Lissom have made a superb follow-up that doesn’t reinvent their wheel but shows exactly why they are masters of it to begin with. Ed and Julien have made some of the best chamber pop from the last decade in their two albums. If you are looking for emotional and sensitive music to get lost in, “Eclipses” has you covered.
Recommended track: One And The Same
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